How His Promises Work
God is good, and His mercy endures forever. He is so good that many people take Him for granted; they feel He does everything for them and there’s nothing they need to do.
Well, it’s true; without Him we couldn’t do anything. Yet many times there are things we must do in order for His promises to be fulfilled. Many, I’d say most, of His promises are conditional.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)
Notice, we are to “work out” that which God “works in”. It’s called obedience. God speaks to our heart, either through His Word or an intuition, a thought, or a perceived notion generated by His Spirit, and our responsibility is to obey as quickly and precisely as possible.
A good example of this principle is found in Malachi 3:8-12.
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:10 ESV)
“Bring (or obey)” and the Lord will fulfill His promise. That’s typically how His promises work.
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18; 7:1 ESV)
Who wouldn’t want the promise of God as their Father, dwelling in their midst, treating them as Sons and Daughters?
So, for anyone really desiring His promises, the condition is established: cleanse yourself of any and every defilement, and be holy, walking in the fear of God.
Another important aspect of how His promises work: we must mix faith with the promises.
“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.” (Hebrews 4:1-2 ESV)
Hebrews gives the example of the Israelites hearing the promises of the rich and fertile land, over and over, yet never mixing faith in the promises. To them, either God was a liar or the promises were too good to be true.
Look at the following verse. Paul wrote in regards to the work God did through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Notice God’s part in the work, AND our part.
“…having been buried with him in baptism, in which YOU WERE ALSO RAISED WITH HIM THROUGH FAITH in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12 ESV)
God did His part.
And if His promises aren’t realized, it’s not because He changed His mind. He isn’t a liar. However, as in the case of the Israelites, it COULD be that we didn’t mix faith with the promise or we didn’t obey the promise giver.
Yes, there are a few times we don’t have to do anything; His will is going to happen. But more times than not, if His promise didn’t happen it’s because we didn’t understand how they work, or we didn’t care.
But now we know.
We know we need to obey the conditions.
We know we must mix our faith with His promises.
That’s how His promises work.