God Is Faithful that Promised

“That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.” —Luke 1:4

WE LEARN from the Scriptures that Luke, the physician, although not called to be an apostle, nevertheless was a very active disciple in the Early Church and a valuable Bible historian. (Col. 4:14) We are indebted to Luke, and grateful to the Lord for his overruling providences, whereby two very important books of the New Testament have been given to us—the Gospel according to Luke, and The Acts of the Apostles. When we read the opening words of the Book of Luke, and also the Book of Acts, we learn there were people then, just like ourselves, who were desirous of knowing God better. They longed to be sanctified by his Truth and to serve him acceptably, and thereby be prepared for greater service in the age to come, as body members of the Christ in glory.

Faithful Luke begins his Gospel account with these words, “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the Word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus [meaning ‘loved of God’, and evidently someone at Rome wanting to know more about the actual events in our Lord’s life and ministry in Israel], that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” We cannot read these words without appreciating the faith of Luke, his deep convictions, and his zeal to assist this one who was searching to know more of God and Christ.

When we come to the opening verses of the Book of Acts, we find a relationship between the two accounts. “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Spirit had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen; to whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, Ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.”—Acts 1:1-5

It is a similar desire to know and serve God and Christ that impels us today as it did Luke and Theophilus long ago. The same Holy Spirit encourages us to look into God’s Word, so graciously preserved for us, and to study its meaning and instruction with those of like precious faith. The Lord has rewarded us in our search, and has heard our prayers; he has helped us as he did Luke to be assured “of those things which are most surely believed among us.”—Luke 1:1

As we consider God’s marvelous grace toward us, in calling us out of darkness into his marvelous light (I Pet. 2:9), we think of how wonderful that old, sweet story is—how God sent his well-beloved Son into the world for our salvation. Jesus was the long-promised Messiah, whose birth, childhood, ministry, sufferings, rejection, crucifixion, death, and resurrection has been so detailed in prophecy. The Apostle Paul tells us, in Galatians 4:4, “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law,” as well as Adam, and all his race. Surely we should appreciate how faithfully God fulfills every detail of his promises!

The more we know about God, the more we marvel at his wisdom and his almighty power. As Luke records, when the time drew near for Jesus to be born of Mary, the Lord began a series of overruling circumstances that is both interesting and faith-strengthening to recognize. The empire of Rome was the ruling power of the world at that time, known for the great strength by which it enforced its laws. Do we suppose, however, that it just happened that the Emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus, sent forth a decree that all the empire should be taxed? (Luke 2:1-7) The timing was remarkable. In line with this new tax law, Joseph and Mary, being of the lineage of David, were required to go up to Bethlehem, exactly at the time when Jesus was due to be born. Thus was fulfilled the promise of God found in Micah 5:2 that “out of thee, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the nations, yet shall he come forth who shall be the Ruler in all Israel.” Even though not aware of this prophecy or of what was occurring in the lives of Joseph and Mary, the Emperor was used as an agency in carrying out its fulfillment. Jesus was born where God had said, and in the manner prophesied—that a virgin would conceive and be with child.—Isa. 7:14; Luke 1:34,35

As we consider this example of our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness to his Word, his wisdom and foreknowledge, and his almighty power to achieve his purposes, should we, as Christians, worry whether he has events under control? Surely not, but rather we should be learning to have complete assurance that God is both able and willing to fulfill all his good designs and plans. However, some might be inclined to question the consistency of the exercise of God’s foreknowledge and power, reasoning that while he was able to overrule and bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy, yet he failed to supply a room at the inn for Joseph and Mary. Could not God have provided a better place than a manger for the bringing forth of his well-beloved Son? Perhaps his intent in allowing this was to afford a valuable lesson.

We are told in the Bible that another wonderful son of God had gone astray—Lucifer, the Son of the Morning. (Ezek. 28:12; Isa. 14:12) He became Satan, an adversary of God and of righteousness. This rebellion began when pride entered his heart, and he desired to elevate himself, prompting him to say, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.”—Isa. 14:13,14

In making us aware of this, we are inclined to think our Heavenly Father, in his great wisdom, was teaching us an eternal lesson. Oh, not many great people of earth would think a manger in a stable a proper place for their child to be born. But God arranged just that for his Son—the very one he planned to raise up in power to a place at his own right hand. In the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth, God was teaching a vital principle of his rulership—that he who would be great, must also be humble. Jesus manifested this spirit in his life and expressed it in a prayer: “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Matt. 11:25,26) God has given us so many good examples along this line to follow, and to use as models with which to fashion our own lives. As footstep followers of Jesus, God also overrules our experiences so that these same lessons can be impressed upon our hearts and minds, for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.—Eph. 2:10

The Bible also gives examples of those who were wayward, and disobedient to God. The Weymouth rendering of the account in Jude concerning the disobedient angels tells us they were “those who did not keep the position originally assigned to them, but deserted their own proper abode.” Lucifer, also, was not satisfied with that estate or position designated to him. But the scripture reminds us, “Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south, but God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (Ps. 76:6,7) The Apostle Peter counsels us to “humble … [ourselves] therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt … [us] in due time.” (I Pet. 5:6) A careful consideration of Peter’s words in the context of this verse, reveals his understanding of the close relationship and importance of God’s part, and our part, in the work of sanctification that must be completed in us if we are to receive the glorious inheritance to which we have been so graciously called.

Our study of God’s Word should have as its purpose an application of its precepts in our daily lives which will bear much fruit to the glory of God. With an eye to increasing our faithfulness in this matter, let us consider the marvelous example of the Heavenly Father’s faithfulness to us. In Hebrews the tenth chapter, we find the Apostle Paul encouraging the brethren at Jerusalem in a time of sore trial and testing. It is one of those strong statements of the Bible that is so helpful to us in both doctrine and in exhortation. In verses nineteen and twenty, Paul exhorts the brethren in Christ, those accepted in the Beloved, justified and Spirit-begotten, to follow their forerunner into the Most Holy. In the Tabernacle type, the Most Holy was the place where the presence of God dwelt. (Lev. 16:2) The apostle explains this was a figure of “heaven itself,” where Christ entered for us. (Heb. 9:24) In Hebrews 6:19 and 20, the apostle speaks of our wonderful hope as one which “entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered.”

Earlier in Hebrews the sixth chapter, Paul reminds us of Abraham’s faithfulness, and God’s promise to him attested by his oath that he would multiply Abraham, and that through his seed all nations will be blessed. (Gen. 22:18) In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul identifies this promised seed of blessing as Christ and his faithful, overcoming church. (Gal. 3:16,28) In his promise to Abraham, God said the seed of blessing was to “possess,” or take the gate of, his enemies. And in Revelation 1:18, our risen Lord declares that this promise has been kept, because he now has the keys of the gates to the condition of death and the dying process—the great enemies of mankind throughout all ages. God has again been faithful in the fulfilling of his Word!

Our attention is called to the superiority of Christ, now a king and priest after the order of Melchisedec, possessing “the power of an endless life.” (Heb. 7:16) In Hebrews 7:21, another great distinction or mark of superiority accorded this high priest is shown when he writes, “For those priests were made without an oath; but this [one, Christ] with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” The apostle was quoting from the prophecy recorded in Psalm 110:4, saying that that great priest now exists in the person of our risen Lord. Again our God has proven to be faithful to his Word!

“By so much was Jesus made a surety [guarantee] of a better covenant.” (Heb. 7:22) Yes, this was to be a covenant that could give life, one that could succor or help to the “uttermost,” or completely. Thus our loving Heavenly Father has given us, for the strengthening of our faith, two wonderful promises—each attested to by his oath. So, by two immutable things—not only the blessing of all the nations of the earth, but also the coming of the seed through whom the blessing would be made available—his promises would be carried out in the kingdom for which we have been taught to pray. How gracious is our Father in heaven! How strong a foundation for faith is laid in his holy Word!

And so it is, as a result of our sins and shortcomings having been remitted when God accepted us in the beloved, Christ, and being begotten of the Holy Spirit, that the apostle exhorts us to “enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated [or, hath newly made, Margin], for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” (Heb. 10:19,27; Rom. 6:3-5) As with the head (“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and then enter into his glory?”), so also with the body members. Only by following in the footsteps of the Master, their forerunner, can the after-runners enter into the presence of God and be “joint-heirs with Christ,” to live and reign with him for the lifting up and blessing of all the families of the earth. (Rom. 8:17-21; Rev. 20:4,6) And only by faithfully continuing in Christ, in whom we have been accepted of the Father “by the blood of Jesus [the atoning merit of his righteous sacrifice now imputed to the church by God’s grace]”, can we, having finished our earthly course as joint-sacrificers with Christ, enter through the veil into the glorious presence of him that called us unto his eternal kingdom and glory.

Then the Apostle Paul continues, “Having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised.)” (Heb. 10:21-23) Yes, these promises seem almost too wonderful to believe, but he is faithful that promised!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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