The Power of a Promise From God
Text: Galatians 3: 6,7
Proposition: The promise of God to Abraham had the perspective of eternity and the possibility of the present and came to us all as a gift of grace.
Introduction: This has become the age of broken promises. That’s true in politics, there are broken promises in education’s values and outcomes, in the medical arena where the promise of ‘do no harm’ has been made a situational ethic. The promise to love and cherish until death do us part has also fallen to redefinition and divorce has become a normal. The promise of technology has begun to be seen as not only that which makes our lives easier but also more observable. The promise of the world’s governments to become more engaged in the care of the poor has become rhetoric. Statistics from 2015 say that the UN’s goal for developed nations was that they would give .7% of their Gross National Income for the development of poor countries. That’s just seven tenths of one percent. Canada gave .28% which was well above what the United States gave at .17%, the lowest of all the countries listed. (Faith Today, May/June 2018 edition). It is as Thomas Edison said, “Vision without execution is hallucination”. So what promise can we look to, can we hang our hope on? Charles Spurgeon once said, “In the same way the sun never grows weary of shining, nor a stream of flowing, it is God's nature to keep His promises. Therefore, go immediately to His throne and say, 'Do as You promised.”. That’s what we’re going to look at this morning, the promise of God that He made 4000 years ago that had you and I in view. Turn with me to Galatians 3:6,7.
I. The Nature of a Promise is That It Is Invisible, Unseen, It Demands Faith.
That is true of every promise that you have ever made, it was you assuring someone that you would absolutely do what you believed in was in your capability and power to do. But it was future tense, all promise is future tense and as such it calls you to trust and, in many cases, obey. Those are the elements that make up faith, a trust in the one who promises and a resulting compliance or obedience as you await the arrival of the promise. In the passage before us this morning Paul is referring to Abraham, a man who first steps on the stage of history in about 2000BC. This is no small figure in history. Three of the worlds major religions look back to him specifically, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It’s particularly the Jews that Paul is addressing here, Jews who had converted to Christianity but were yet hanging on to aspects of the Mosaic Law as well as the teaching of Christ’s death on the cross as the means of being right with God. So Paul cites Abraham whose life was so characterized by faith that he left his country in obedience to God’s direction, he looked for the birth of his first son though he waited until he over 100 years old, he even took that long awaited son, again in obedience to God, and demonstrated that he was willing to see the boy die because of what God had promised to do when that boy grew to be a man. Paul picks the figure of Abraham as an example of what faith looks like and then he takes it a step further. He says that faith is the only means to be right with God. It is the only way that we can gain righteousness and that faith begins in us as the Holy Spirit is supplied to us, as He works the miracle of transformation in us of being changed from unbelief to faith, from unrighteousness to righteousness. That’s his statement in Galatians 3:5. Then look at what he says in Galatians 3:6. In the NIV it says, “So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Abraham believed the promise of God, a future tense promise that had such an enormous scope to it as to be stunning. All the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. In Genesis 15:5 God said to Abraham, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” It was a future tense promise, one which Abraham would never live to see fulfilled, yet just the same he believed and now you and I see it today. So God’s promises will require faith just as any promise made to you will. The difference is that the scope and scale of God’s promises are not only far, far grander and larger than anyone else could ever make to you, His promises are underwritten by His absolute power and perfect knowledge and timeless existence. But look at what Paul says.
II. The Process By Which We Are made Right With God Is Faith.
What do I mean by process? It’s a process that requires the removal of a barrier between you and God, a cancelling of a debt so to speak, the paying of a bill that in its extent and consequence is unpayable by any efforts of our own. The process requires the debt to paid in full and then an issuing to you of an entirely new identity, not just on paper but in the perfect understanding of how God then sees you. The debt that is cancelled out is that which our sin nature has been accumulating since we were first born. By nature we are people who do what is right in our own eyes, we self justify, we violate the truth of Who God is and in so doing we violate the truth of who we are. Scripture says that we are made in God’s image yet so often we try to make God into our image and it is such a flawed perception of God that we reject Him even though that is not Who He is. If someone rejected you on the basis of a misunderstanding of who you are how would you feel about that? Even so because of sin that’s exactly what we do with God. So the process requires a paying off of that debt of treating God a someone other than Who He really is. That will infer that I treat myself and others with a similar distortion. Sin does that and it creates an absolutely unpayable debt that is a barrier between God and us. The debt can’t be paid by us, it’s a debt that only God can reconcile and He does exactly that by paying the debt with Himself. The debt of sin, the sin of the whole world, demands death. So God gave Himself in form of His Son, Jesus Christ, deity incarnated into humanity for the main purposes of revealing the truth of Who God is and then for the taking of that sin barrier out of the way by paying its price. Jesus died for you and I. So the bill of sin is paid for by Christ and it now requires your acceptance of that payment. The process of faith is that it requires an understanding of the debt, it requires an agreement with God about us and our sin, it requires that forgiveness of all your sin, past, present and future. It requires that there be an exchange made, a legal exchange your guilt for His innocence, His righteousness for your sin. That exchange brings to you a covering like the royal robe of a Prince wrapped around the shoulders of a naked thief. The King sees the robe and now sees you in that robe as His son, He now calls you His child, a child of the King. That identity is more than imagination, it is as legal and binding as an adoption certificate, it is now who you are. The process all occurs because of His promise and your faith in His unseen promise which causes immediate change to occur. Your sins are forgiven, you are made right with God, you stand righteous before Him in Christ from this moment into all eternity!
This is what Abraham experienced, righteousness that comes through faith. The moment that you by faith agree with God that Jesus is the only way my debt could be reconciled you too receive that same righteousness that Abraham received and still stands in to this very moment even though it’s now 4000 years later and he is present before Jesus Christ in heaven. Do you remember those words that Jesus once said about Abraham in John 8:56, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” There is nothing you can do that will undo sin, that’s what legalism seeks to do. Abraham rejoiced to see the day that Christ would come, the day that He would make as many as received Him to become like Him, children of God. Perhaps today is your day. If you are willing, by faith receive the promise of God, believe in the reconciling and redeeming work of Christ for you. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”