Vol.XV No.XI Pg.4
January 1979

God's Promise

Robert F. Turner

A simple "concordance" study of "promise" should open our eyes to remarkable truths. God's promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:) coupled with the explanation in Gal. 3:16, comes about as close as one can get to a "key" for the scriptures. God built a nation through which His Son would be given for the redemption of "all nations."

In Gal. 3:16-17 Paul says the seed was Christ, and that the law cannot cancel the blessings promised in Him. Inheritance is not by means of law, but by means of promise (3:18). The law served to "bring us to Christ" (in that sin and the need for mercy are, by law, made apparent-- see Rom. 3:19-20, 7:13), but justification and salvation are through faith in Him who was promised; hence we are "heirs according to promise" (Gal. 3:26-29).

In Romans 9: the sovereign will of God is shown to have chosen the ancestry of Christ. Abraham had two sons, but Isaac was selected to be in the lineage. Again, of Isaac's sons, it was Jacob, not Esau, who was called. The physical, literal descendants of Abraham were not, by virtue of family relations or of "works" (merit) in this favored position. Only those "chosen of God" in keeping with His promise were so blessed (vs. 6-11). It was presumptuous, therefore, for Jews to object to God's gift of Christ for Gentiles as well as Jews. It was His business, not theirs, that spiritual "children of Abraham" included whosoever would trust in Christ (vs. 22-f). The corporate body of believers (the "vessels of mercy" — Jew AND Gentile saints) are then associated with the promise made re. the "remnant" (24-f). Romans 9: is grossly misused when twisted to teach that God elected certain individuals to be saved; but it does relate salvation in Christ to promise (the result of Grace) rather than to law or meriting works (v.11). There is a likeness in Isaac and all saints. "We, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise" (Gal. 4:28)

Covenant and promise are related in Acts 3:25f, and God's keeping of His promise is realized in the resurrected Christ. We receive promised blessings when our sins are forgiven. This theme is repeated in the sermons of Paul: "Of this man's (David) seed hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus" (Acts 13:23). Then read vs. 32-33; and see that this blessing is called "the sure mercies of David" (v.34). Finally, "Be it known unto you.... that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins" (v.38). Paul certainly did not preach nationalistic "hope" for Israel; but his message of salvation in Christ was "the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers" (Acts 26:6-7).

There were other promises of God, such as the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, through Christ, to chosen witnesses (Lu. 24:49, Acts 1:4, 2: 33). This is referred to in Gal. 3:5, 14, as something "worked among" the Galatians. It signaled the source and certainty of the New Covenant, here and in Acts 2. But in the greater and more general sense, PROMISE refers to God's mercy and grace in giving His Son for our redemption. How wonderful that His promise is immutable and so very sure (Heb. 6:13-20).