The Promises of God

By Pastor Doug Batchelor

An Amazing Fact: William Penn, the founder of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was well-liked by the Indians. They once told him he could have as much of their land as he could encompass on foot in a single day. Early the next morning, he started out and walked until late that night. When he finally went to claim his land, the Indians were greatly surprised, for they really didn’t expect he would take their word seriously. But they kept their promise and gave him the large tract that today is part of the city of Philadelphia. William Penn simply believed what they had said. Should we do less with God?

You have heard the expression, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”

In the Bible, we’re told over and over again that God’s promises never fail.

That’s in stark contrast to the situation in which the United States currently finds itself: We’ve got an epidemic of bankrupt business and credit crises because of a failed financial industry that was built on the gelatinous foundation of men’s promises.

In the resulting monetary morass, people have lost their jobs and businesses. Ironically, they also signed contracts to make payments that they can no longer make. Cars are being repossessed. And in the wake of immense financial strain and blame, couples are rescinding their promises of “through good times and bad” and are seeking divorce.

It’s enough to make everyone wonder if we can trust anybody’s word these days. Does a promise still mean anything?

A Perfect Credit Record

A number of companies today evaluate our credit scores to determine our dependability in keeping covenants. I have some very good news: God has a perfect credit score. Even in this world of broken contracts and violated vows, you can still completely trust God’s promises. When God says something, it never fails. That’s why my goal is to encourage you to read your Bible more and help you believe in and take advantage of the wonderful array of promises found throughout His Word.

Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that he should lie; … hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” We humans are pretty weak-willed. Sometimes out of fear we’ll make an impulsive promise, even though we know we can’t keep it.

But God doesn’t need to do that. For one, He never feels threatened or pressured. But most important, the Bible says He simply cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). In Matthew 24:35, Jesus explains, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

In fact, God goes out of His way to guarantee Himself for all eternity: “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Psalm 89:34). Then He backs it up by doing what He says.

You might be thinking, “Lord, you said you’re coming back; where are you?” Has His promise failed? Not at all. He promised to come the first time, and He did. It’s now about 2,000 years after that, and I think He is just about to come again. We might forget what He promises because we’re so impatient. But God is very patient. He doesn’t measure time the way we do. “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8 NKJV).

You can trust the promises found in the Word of God — they are a solid, immense, immovable rock that we can stand on forever (Luke 6:47, 48).

My question is: Why do so few of us do so?

Unbelief in God’s Promises
Failure to believe God’s promises insults Him, His Word, and His character.

For example, after all the Lord did to bring the Jews out of Egypt, they wouldn’t believe He could take them all the way to the Promised Land. “In this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day” (Deuteronomy 1:32, 33). These fortunate souls had seen the Red Sea part, a fiery pillar lead them through the wilderness, and bread rain from heaven, but they still lacked faith.

When God brought them to the borders of the Promised Land, they sent in scouts to get a feel for the condition of the land. Ten of them came back to express overwhelming doubt about what God could do. But the Promised Land was called the Promised Land for a reason!

Their faithlessness ended up costing them dearly: “The LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth … saying, Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers” (vs. 34, 35). They were not permitted to enter “heaven on earth” for their unbelief.

In the same way, if you want to get into the heavenly Canaan, you must believe in God’s promises. Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). The ironic thing is that if I were to ask a group of Christians whether they think Jesus was preparing a room for them in heaven, most would say yes. But if I were to ask how many believed they could have victory over sin, they would express doubt, even though God specifically promises it to them. (More on this promise later!)

I’m worried that many who have experienced the truth of God will get to the border of the Promised Land only to lose faith in the Lord. We’re often good at believing that God can do anything around us, but not in us. But if God can rain down brimstone and part seas, He can keep His promise of giving you a new heart. Hebrews 4:1 warns: “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” We need to fear falling into an attitude of unbelief. We need to be “fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” in our hearts and minds (Romans 4:21).

Cashing in on His Promises

One of the most successful gimmicks of retailers is selling gift cards. They make a lot of money off people who fail to use the cards or lose them before they use all the funds on them. Retailers can make a 50 percent profit from them and, worse, sometimes they go out of business rendering the purchased gift cards useless!


By God’s grace, His promises have no expiration date. So how do we cash in?

For one, we have to know what those promises are. That means reading His inspired Word regularly. It’s thrilling to track the Lord through biblical history by His promises; His actions are always following His promises. So often we miss out on these stirring gems of hope because we don’t read them and wrap ourselves around them in study. The Word of God is everything; it must come alive in our minds and hearts. It must be seen and heard before it can be believed.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were threatened with incineration by Nebuchadnezzar, I believe they remembered and claimed a Scripture found in Isaiah 43: “When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you” (v. 2 NKJV). I imagine these faithful servants learned of this promise at their mothers’ knee, and when Nebuchadnezzar said, “I’m going to throw you into the fiery furnace,” the Holy Spirit reminded them of it.

Are you going to redeem His promises, or are you going to let His “gift card” disappear somewhere in your pile of papers?

Ask for and Believe in His Promises
Have you ever heard the ABCs of prayer — ask, believe, and claim? That’s a pretty good nugget of advice in experiencing God’s promises in your life. And there are literally thousands of promises in the Bible. I would have loved to include a list for you here, but there simply isn’t enough room. God’s promises are an inexhaustible mine filled with wealth. (I will list a few promises for you later, but you really need to search His Word to learn as many as you can. You have all the reason in the world to read your Bible.)

Next, you need to ask. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego claimed God’s promise when they said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from your hand, O King.” Did God honor His word? I can see it now — as they were being tied up by soldiers, the three men were probably muttering the promise to each other: “Remember the promise in Isaiah. When we go through the fire, it will not burn us. Lord, you hear that? You said it.” They presented it to the Lord, and the whole world would have had to pass away before God failed in that promise. God miraculously protected them.

To receive a promise, we also need to pray in Jesus’ name. “All the promises of God in [Jesus] are yea, and in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Then you need to believe that God will come through for you. Of course, we don’t deserve a promise based on what we have done, but we can have it on the good name of His Son. How wonderful is the righteousness of Jesus Christ!

Your prayer can be as simple as, “Lord, I believe in your promise. I am asking you, in the name of Christ, to fulfill it. Thank you.” When you approach the Father like this, believing in the integrity of His Word, you honor Him, His promise, and His Son. What do you think your chances are of God honoring your faith? I think they are pretty good. Hebrews 11:33 proclaims that His people “through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises.”

Now, while I have a little room left, let me share some of God’s most powerful promises. The more you read your Bible, the more you will see that the promises of God are like stars. The darker the night, the brighter they will shine for you.

The Promise of His Spirit

It’s our most important need as Christians: God’s Spirit dwelling within us. In Acts 2:38, 39, Peter says, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (NKJV). God has promised us His Holy Spirit.

When anyone sincerely calls upon the name of the Lord in baptism, God offers the Holy Spirit in the same way it was given to Jesus when He was baptized. Indeed, part of the reason the Spirit came down was to empower Jesus for a life of holiness and ministry. God will also do that for you.

I wonder how many people have been baptized but have never received the Holy Spirit because they went through a baptism but neglected to claim His Spirit. Have you prayed and asked for His Spirit? Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13 NKJV). If you don’t think you have received the Spirit, it’s not too late. God can provide it even before baptism, as He did with Cornelius, or after baptism, as He did with the Apostles. If you’re still waiting for the Holy Spirit to come, maybe God has been waiting for you to ask.

The Promise of Everlasting Life
An elderly Christian was in much distress as he lay dying. “Oh, Pastor,” he said, “For years I have relied upon the promises of God, but now in the hour of death I can’t remember a single one to comfort me.” Knowing that Satan was behind this poor man’s doubt, the preacher said, “My brother, do you think that God will forget any of His promises?” A peaceful smile came over the face of the dying believer as he exclaimed joyfully, “No. No! He won’t!”

Of course, one of the best promises we can claim is the gift of eternal life. “This is the promise that He has promised us — eternal life” (1 John 2:25 NKJV). Just in case one witness is not enough for you, here is a second: “For this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant … that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15 NKJV).

“Oh,” you might think, “I’m not good enough!” If that’s your fear, stop trembling. God promises to fix that too. He knows you’re not good enough, but He promises to change your heart and prepare you for eternity. And if you lack the faith — well, He promises to give you faith.

The Promise for Holy Living
While you are believing in the promise of eternal life, believe this: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). This is a powerful promise — He has given power in all things that pertain to life, practical living, faith, and godliness.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill promises; these aren’t even just great promises. They are “exceeding great and precious promises.” Through them, we can be “partakers of the divine nature.”  Whose nature is that? The nature of Christ Himself. Imagine that!

Sadly, many want to brush this aside and suggest it means that God merely looks upon you as if you had the nature of Christ. But that’s not what it says. “By these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4, emphasis added). Is that clear enough? Maybe it hasn’t happened because you don’t believe it, but the promise is right there. You can live a holy life.

Just to belabor the point, Jude 1:24 says, “Unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (emphasis added). Do you believe the devil can tempt you to sin? If so, do you believe that Jesus can keep you from sin? If not, then you actually believe that the devil is more powerful than God! Yet if you believe, all things are possible — even sinless living. Of course, you’re not trusting in your own word or abilities or promises. You’re trusting in God’s promises and depending on Him to see you through all things.

Total Trust
When the Apostle Paul was on his way to Rome, a horrible storm overtook his boat. Everyone on board thought they were going to die … except Paul. For 14 days, the crew had been lost at sea, and now it looked like the ship was going down. They even threw tackling overboard in an attempt to save themselves. Yet here was Paul, totally unfazed.

They wondered, “Why are you so calm?” Paul answered, “God said I have to talk to Caesar, and I haven’t talked to him yet — so I know I’m living through this storm.” God made a promise, and Paul was totally fearless. Instead of trembling in fear, he prayed for everyone else on the boat, and God heard his prayer and saved them. Not one perished because of the intercession and total faith on the part of Paul. You might have been jaded from promises from family members, friends, or even politicians. We sometimes break our covenants with one another, but God does not.

He’s in the Next Room
Robert Murray McCheyne once wrote, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.” How true is that? If you could know, right now, that Jesus is in the next room praying for you, would you be afraid of anything?

Yet McCheyne concluded his statement this way: “Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” Christ lives to make intercession for you. Just because He’s a little farther away and you can’t see or hear Him, He is praying for you to trust in and to receive God’s promises.

There is an old rabbinical legend that when Joseph was prime minister to Pharaoh during the Egyptian famine, he emptied the chaff of his granaries into the Nile River. It floated far away on the moving currents. When the people on the shoreline saw it pass by, they were filled with comfort. It was only chaff, but it meant that there was plenty of corn somewhere. They only needed to trace it to its source. God has promises of plenty for you, but you must track them.

I hope you will bank everything you have on that truth and begin to read your Bible to locate God’s promises. You need to read them — underline them — and start asking, and believing, and claiming them in your life. No matter what your challenges are, you’ll experience a complete transformation and even total victory. Do you have a problem with your character, a problem with your child, a problem at work? God can take care of those. Don’t underestimate the power or range in the arsenal of His promises.

Finally, they say that in the contracts of men, “The big print gives, and the small print taketh away.” So what is the fine print of God’s promises? “All things are possible for those who believe!” If you’re not in the Promised Land, it’s because you didn’t believe that He could take you there. Unlike the disbelieving spies, Joshua and Caleb did believe. They said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30 NKJV). And God rewarded them the same way He wants to reward you.

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