|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 11, 2017 at 1:15 AM||comments (0)|
And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life…And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 2:25; 5:11)
The gift of eternal life is to be possessed now, not just awaiting us in eternity. "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life…Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life…Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47). Those who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus already have eternal life here on earth. Furthermore, that reality can be embraced with assurance. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:11-13). Eternal life is innate to Jesus Christ. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live…I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 11:25; 14:6). He is the life. All who have trusted in the Lord Jesus have Him dwelling in their lives. Therefore, they are assured of having eternal life.
In addition to granting us assurance, these verses emphasize the most profound aspect of eternal life. The realities of that life are all related to Jesus. "I am the resurrection and the life…I am the way, the truth, and the life…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (John 11:25; 14:6). In order to grow on that life, one must only pursue a growing relationship with the one who has the life. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (John 17:3 and 2 Peter 3:18).
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 10, 2017 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. (1 John 2:25)
The first promise that we will look at could actually be called "the promise of all promises," as far as that which impacts man the most. This promise is the culmination of all the others. "And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life." As in human life, eternal life has a quantitative aspect (related to duration) and a qualitative aspect (related to substance).
The quantitative aspect of eternal life pertains to the fact that it never ends. Consequently, it is sometimes translated as everlasting. "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40). As humans, who begin natural life, limited to a brief number of years, the thought of a never-ending life is overwhelming. Yet, as amazing as the quantitative side of eternal life is, the qualitative side is even more stupendous.
Jesus spoke of the qualitative aspect of eternal life. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). This would be a life in which the fullness of Jesus' grace was being increasingly manifested. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth…And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for (upon) grace" (John 1:14, 16). This would be a life in which the Holy Spirit was being trusted to produce Christlike characteristics in an increasing manner. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). This would be a life in which we could not be the source of sufficiency, but God would be. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5).
Appropriately, this eternal life is offered to man as a gift. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord…And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (Romans 6:23 and John 10:28). Necessarily, this gift can only be received by faith: "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:15).
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 9, 2017 at 1:10 AM||comments (0)|
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think….(Ephesians 3:20)
These opening words from one of the most well-known benedictions in all of the New Testament offers a unique opportunity to consider God's ability, as related to His promises. How able is God? He is "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think." Could we possibly ask for more than God has already promised? Could we properly think greater things than God has promised? Well, let's reflect upon some of the promises of God that we have already considered.
We have seen that God promised to make a mighty nation with world-wide blessings from one man, Abraham. "I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3). God also promised to deliver His people from bondage into an abundant land. "I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt…to a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:17). He also promised to fight for His people. "The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you" (Deuteronomy 1:30). Additionally, God promised an eternal kingdom for His people, through the line of David. "And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever" (2 Samuel 7:16). Further, God promised that His Messiah would sit on that eternal throne. "A Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him" (Isaiah 11:1-2). Moreover, God promised that Messiah would be a unique King. "A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench" (Isaiah 42:3). Ultimately, the Father promised that the Messiah Himself (Jesus) would be the new covenant of grace. "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will…give You as a covenant to the people" (Isaiah 42:6). Correspondingly, the Lord promised that this covenant of grace would provide forgiveness of sins ("I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more"—Jeremiah 31:34), intimacy with God ("They all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them"—Jeremiah 31:34), and an inner work of God to change us from the inside out ("I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts"—Jeremiah 31:33).
Certainly, we could not ask or think beyond these promises. Yet, our God is able to do far beyond these extraordinary matters. What confidence this gives us regarding God's promises, as well as every prayer we offer based on these promises!
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 8, 2017 at 2:15 AM||comments (0)|
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. (2 Timothy 1:12)
A growing appreciation of God's ability produces in us an increasing tendency to rely upon God's promises. In this present meditation, we will be reminded of how relationship with the Lord is always at the heart of the Christian life.
The setting for Paul's "one verse testimony" was the suffering that he was experiencing. "For this reason I also suffer these things." The reason he suffered was related to his calling to preach the gospel, "to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (2 Timothy 1:11). When the Lord first called Paul to serve Him in the good news of grace, his future sufferings were addressed. "I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16). Suffering is inevitable while serving God in an ungodly world. Jesus Himself was our example. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21).
Although Paul suffered, he was not shamed by his suffering. "Nevertheless I am not ashamed." If our suffering is for godly reasons, we likewise do not need to be ashamed. "If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter" (1 Peter 4:16). The faith that Paul had to endure sufferings properly came from His growing relationship with Jesus. "For I know whom I have believed." Since he originally believed in the Lord, Paul had become increasingly acquainted with Him. A wonderful consequence of increased intimacy with Christ is that we become increasingly convinced of His ability. "For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able." This conviction covered every matter that Paul entrusted into the care of His Master. "He is able to keep what I have committed to Him." Also, it covered every day right up until the return of the Lord: "until that Day." Again, Jesus left us a similar example. He committed His daily situations into the hands of His able heavenly Father: "When He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:23).
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 7, 2017 at 1:50 AM||comments (0)|
Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace…Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Daniel 3:17; Jude 24)
Three young Israelites (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego) gave powerful testimony of the ability of God. King Nebuchadnezzar had ordered all the people to engage in idolatry, under threat of severe consequences. "To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn…you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace" (Daniel 3:4-6). The three young men had a bold answer, based on the ability of God. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace." They did not bow down, so they were thrown into the blazing furnace. Yet, the Lord demonstrated His ability on their behalf. When the king looked into the furnace, he exclaimed, "Look!…I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God" (Daniel 3:25). Yes, God proved able to deliver them.
Hundreds of years later, Jude addressed God's ability regarding two other important arenas. "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." This aspect of God's ability offers assurance that God can keep His people from stumbling while on earth and present them faultless when they reach heaven. We all know our own capacity to stumble spiritually into transgression or compromise. We also struggle with the condemnations of the enemy that rob us of expectation to eventually stand before our Lord in glory fully forgiven, cleansed, and transformed. Our God is able to work effectively in both arenas for all who humbly trust in Him.
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 6, 2017 at 1:55 AM||comments (0)|
With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible…For with God nothing will be impossible. (Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37)
God's ability has a critical relationship with His promises. The greater we see His ability, the more sure we are of His promises. Man's ability is one of the basic reasons we generally doubt his promises. This is one of the significant differences between God's promises and man's promises. Man's ability often runs into human impossibilities. The Lord is not limited by the "impossibility factor." This truth is reflected in two stories of "seeming impossibilities" that lie behind our present verses.
A young rich man came to Jesus, seeking salvation. "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" (Matthew 19:16). Jesus quoted the law to stir conviction of need. The rich man wrongly thought he was performing well. "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?" (Matthew 19:20). Jesus identified with precision the man's basic sin, putting money ahead of the Lord. "Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Matthew 19:21). However, the rich young man would not put Jesus ahead of his riches. "When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions" (Matthew 19:22). Jesus then elaborated on the man's difficult situation. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24). The disciples (who wrongly assumed that rich men were the most likely to be saved) wondered how anyone could then be saved. Jesus corrected their faulty thinking. "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:24). Later, Jesus demonstrated God can even save a rich man (Zacchaeus—see Luke 19:1-10).
Our second story concerns the "impossible births" of Jesus and John, the Baptist. When the angel proclaimed to Mary that she would have a child before she even knew a man in marriage, she was initially staggered by the impossibility of it all. "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" (Luke 1:34). The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you." (Luke 1:35). Then, the angel announced that Elizabeth (Mary's elderly, barren relative) was now pregnant. Finally, the angel summarized Jesus' divine conception and Elizabeth's miraculous pregnancy with the heavenly explanation. "For with God nothing will be impossible."
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 3, 2017 at 10:05 AM||comments (0)|
I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people. (Isaiah 42:6)
Once again, multiple promises reveal God's plan and guarantee His purposes. These promises are actually being made from God, the Father, to His Messiah, the anointed King (who is God, the Son). The promises show that the Messiah would be the new covenant of grace for His people.
In the opening words, the Father is describing the call of His Messiah (later referred to as "My Servant"—Isaiah 49:6). "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness." Also, the Father is promising full participation in His Messiah's mission. "I, the LORD…will hold Your hand; I will keep You." This would be essential, because the Messiah would go forth as a humble, dependent Servant ("My Servant"): "taking the form of a servant…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:7-8).
Then, the Father offers this great promise of Christ's primary role in going forth to earth. "I will…give You as a covenant to the people." Jesus Christ Himself would be given to God's people as His new covenant with them. The new covenant of grace was supplanting the old covenant of law. Yet, it was not just a matter of new terms being prescribed. Rather, a Person was being given, and He Himself would be the sum and substance of the covenant. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
This new covenant of grace that God has for His people is all related to a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself is the embodiment of all that the new covenant promises. In the new covenant, the Lord promises righteousness. This righteousness is found in a Person. "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS'" (Jeremiah 23:5-6). Peace is promised in this covenant of grace. This peace is also found in a Person. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:13-14). Yes, all that the Lord promises by grace is entered into initially, and continually, by a humble, dependent relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on June 29, 2017 at 11:00 PM||comments (0)|
The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes…No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 1:30; Joshua 1:5)
God's promises had guaranteed that Israel would be delivered from bondage in Egypt. Here, God promises to fight for His people, assuring them of victory in battle as they entered the Promised Land.
There would be many battles as God's people went into the land. Ungodly nations would persistently oppose them. Moses, as God's spokesperson, expresses the Lord's commitment to do battle for Israel. "The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you." The Lord had done mighty things for Israel in bringing them out of Egypt. Now, Moses assures them that God will act again on their behalf "according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes."
Later, the Lord Himself reassured Joshua of similar truth. "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life." Many would try to come against the people of God under Joshua's leadership. Yet, God pledged the same faithfulness to Joshua that Moses had enjoyed. "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you." Then, the Lord added the ultimate words of reassurance. "I will not leave you nor forsake you." When facing the certainty of battles, there is nothing greater than having God committed to always be present to fight against the enemy. The battle report in one region of the Promised Land gave testimony to God's faithful promises. "All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel" (Joshua 10:42).
We are also engaged in warfare, spiritual warfare. "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3). As spiritual soldiers, we must use spiritual weapons. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). The promises of God are part of our spiritual weaponry. Paul stood victorious in battle by the promises of God. "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you…And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them" (Acts 18:9-11).
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on June 28, 2017 at 9:10 AM||comments (0)|
I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt... I will certainly be with you... I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt... to a land flowing with milk and honey... So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. (Exodus 3:10, 12, 17, 20)
Again, we see our God of promises pouring out His guaranteed plans like a cascading river. They encompass God's promise to deliver Israel. These promises build upon God's fundamental commitment to Abraham to call out a people for His own glory and purposes. The central promise reveals the rescuing heart of God, who wants to deliver people from bondage, and bring them into blessing. "I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt...to a land flowing with milk and honey."
Our God is a God of compassion. When Israel was in cruel bondage in Egypt, God's heart was moved with concern. "And the LORD said: 'I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows'" (Exodus 3:7). The prophet Isaiah put it this way: "In all their affliction He was afflicted" (Isaiah 63:9). Thus, the Lord committed Himself to deliver them. "So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go."
When the Lord Jesus walked upon this earth, He demonstrated the same compassion. "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd." (Matthew 9:36). This same loving compassion led Jesus all the way to the cross to deliver us from the bondage of sin.
The delivering work of God for Israel was not only from bondage; it was to substantial blessing: "to a land flowing with milk and honey." Israel was not only rescued from great heartache, but they were brought into a joyous bounty. When Joshua and Caleb saw the land, they described it as "an exceedingly good land" (Numbers 14:7). This same pattern (from bondage, to blessing) is how Jesus works on our behalf
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on June 25, 2017 at 1:20 AM||comments (0)|
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. (Genesis 3:15)
Although the scriptures do not command us to make promises to God, we who believe in the Lord have the liberty to make various kinds of promises. It is permissible to express our devotion to God through promises, if they are in dependence upon His character and capacities. "I will love You, O LORD, my strength" (Psalm 18:1). It is also acceptable to make godly confessions through promises that are based on His promises to us. "He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.' " (Hebrews 13:5-6)
We are even allowed to make predictive promises concerning the details of our lives, if they are subject to God's will. "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that" (James 4:15). Still, the work of God in lives hinges upon His promises to us. In fact, our God is characteristically a God of promises.
The fact that our God typically works through promises is seen as early as the third chapter of the Bible. There, God made a very strategic set of promises. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." These prophetic promises were addressed to Satan, but they were given in the hearing of Adam and Eve. Of course, they were recorded in the scriptures for everyone else to consider thereafter.
These promises revealed some of the consequences of spiritual rebellion, as well as announcing God's remedy for the sin of man. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed." These words declare the inevitability of spiritual warfare, as well as the certainty of the cross of Christ.
The inevitability of spiritual warfare is a major theme in scripture. This warfare is documented throughout the word of God. "Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel...Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?...So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (1 Chronicles 21:1; Acts 5:3; and Revelation 12:9). Nevertheless, the cross of Christ would provide victory over the enemy and escape from this sinful world, for all who would embrace it: "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age" (Galatians 1:3-4).