Threefold Promise

May 27, 2018

There is a saying that promises are meant to be broken. This saying is not without basis because men are fickle-minded and inconstant. We change our minds depending on the situation. But God is not so, because “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Num. 23:19). It is on this truth that we hold fast onto God’s promises. He will surely bring to fulfillment every promise that he has made. Therefore, the apostle Paul said, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

While every promise of God will hold, there will be hindrances in us receiving them. These are contaminants that will bring defilement, particularly the sin of idolatry. The apostle Paul belabored this point saying, “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” (2 Cor. 6:15-16). Unless we are able to purify ourselves from this defilement, the promises of God will not be enjoyed to the fullest. It is for this reason that God said, “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17).

If we are able to purify ourselves from these contaminants, God himself gave a three-fold promise. The first promise is that he will dwell with us. He said, “I will live with them and walk among them” (2 Cor. 6:16). This is an encouraging promise to us who live in this troubled world. To know that God lives with us and walks among us is a great comfort and encouragement, but it is not always an assurance that we will walk uprightly. This was the case of Adam and Eve as mentioned in Genesis 3. God walked with them but his presence did not deter them from succumbing to the temptation of the devil. Therefore, we need to heed the warning of the apostle Peter who said, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

The second promise is when he said, “I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16). To have our creator as our God is without equal. The prophet Micah said, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18). Indeed, our God is a loving God who does not keep a record of wrongs. Although God referred to himself as the God of all flesh in Jeremiah 32:27, he was specifically referring to Israel, his chosen people, when he said that “they shall be my people.” But how special is Israel before God?  Moses said, “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deut. 4:7-8). This is the God that we are serving today, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And because Jesus is in us, the apostle Paul said, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

The third promise is when God said, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters” (2 Cor. 6:18). This is the epitome of God’s promises – that he is our Father and we are his children. As our Father, he is not so distant from us so that he does not care about us. In fact, he cares about us so much that he gave his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to us so that if we receive him and believe in him, we are given the right to become children of God. The apostle Paul beautifully presented our sonship when he said, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Gal. 4:4-6). But what is the significance of being called children of God?  It is more than just a title; it encompasses a right. The apostle Paul explained, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17).

It can be gleaned from these promises that they go from glory to glory: from God merely living with us to him being our God and then our Father. It is when he becomes our Father that our relationship becomes personal and intimate. Indeed, God wants us to be close to him. Therefore, let us draw near to him as our Father and call him Abba, Father. Hallelujah!