Precious Promises

“His [Jehovah’s] divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” —II Peter 1:3,4

MANY are the precious promises made to us—the footstep followers of Christ—in the Scriptures. How often our hearts and minds turn to these in times of deepest sorrow and distress. In them we find a constant source of comfort, strength, and encouragement—especially when we consider that these blessed words have been spoken to us by our Heavenly Father himself, and by our Lord Jesus!

One of the most remarkable of these promises was recorded in II Peter 1:3, which is our theme text. It assures us that “an entrance shall be ministered unto [us] abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” if we “give diligence” to develop the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit. This passage gives us the hope that we might be “partakers of the divine nature!” “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall!”—vs 4-11

Yes, countless precious promises are given to us in God’s Word. They are not given to the world, but they were made to you and to me, for inspiration as we walk along the narrow, Christian way. We know these promises are ours because “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:16,17) It is by faith that we are assured that “all the promises of God … are yea, and … Amen,” “for he is faithful that promised.” (II Cor. 1:20; Heb. 10:23) We can rely upon them, and we must rely upon them.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance gives a very interesting definition of the word rendered ‘suffering’ in the King James Version of Romans 8:17. It uses the words ‘to sympathize with’, which conveys quite a different meaning. In our day of liberality of thought, it is difficult to ‘suffer’ for the truth. But we can certainly sympathize with one another as we go through the burdensome experiences of life. “If children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we sympathize with one another.”

We must learn to sympathize with one another, although it is not easy to do so unless we have gone through the same experiences ourselves. The apostle tell us, “Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer [sympathize] with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it!” (I Cor. 12:26) Our goal is to become like our Master, of whom it was said, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” but who is a “merciful and faithful High Priest,” a sympathetic High Priest.—Heb. 2:17; 4:15

Perhaps during times of prosperity and health we may not lean upon the Lord and his promises as we should. But when we are enduring hard experiences, we remember Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” and we claim it as our own promise. Are you one of “the called”? Yes, “for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”—Phil 2:13

It is at times like these that we can sing in heartfelt prayer, the hymn, “He Leadeth Me”:

“He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
     O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
     Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom,
     Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still or troubled sea—
     Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Lord I would clasp thy hand in mine,
     Nor ever murmur or repine—
Content whatever lot I see,
     Since ‘tis my God that leadeth me.”

As we sing the hymns we should consider the words. So many of them are prayers! When we harmonize our voices together we are encouraged to prepare ourselves for a place in the kingdom as they repeat the promises of God to us! We reaffirm together our faith in God’s promises, thus stimulating each other to become worthy of a share in living and reigning with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our hymns are indeed a treasure-house of prayers!

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Ps. 1:1-3) How comforting it is when we cannot sleep at night, to meditate on the law of the Lord, sometimes by listening to a lesson on cassette from one of our brethren. Our minds are turned away from our problems to higher planes.

In this psalm the Lord likens us to a tree, planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth fruit to his glory. During our early years as Christians we enjoy only the sunshine of God’s favor—the mountaintop experiences. As the years go by we also feel the rain, the dark clouds—the valley experiences. ‘Putting forth leaves’ is an excellent simile showing our development of faith, one leaf at a time, eventually becoming a fully leafed-out tree. Later on the tree blossoms; and soon the fruit becomes evident. At first it is so small, but with each experience it grows until it becomes nice and plump. At this point it is still green for it takes time for the fruit to ripen. Finally the fruit matures into a commodity which has value to the Heavenly Father, the Husbandman, and is to his honor and glory!

Our growth and development in the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit is the result of being subjected to both the sunshine and the rain—accepting the fact that they are sent by our loving Father for our benefit. God is saying to us, “This thing is from me!” On cloudy days we can look upon the horizon, seeing the silver lining of God’s precious promises which brighten our days, and give us strength and hope for tomorrow.

Another old hymn we often sing is, “He Knows.”

“I know not what awaits me,
     God kindly veils mine eyes,
And o’er each step of my onward way
     He makes new scenes to rise;
And every joy he sends me
     Comes a sweet and glad surprise.

Oh blissful lack of knowledge,
     ‘Tis blessed not to know;
He holds me with his own right hand,
     And will not let me go,
And lulls my troubled soul to rest
     In him who loves me so.

So on I go not knowing,
     I would not if I might;
I’d rather walk in the dark with God
     Than go alone in the light;
I’d rather walk by faith with him,
     Than go alone by sight.”

Again, along this same line of thought, each day we read our Morning Resolve, which concludes with the words, “Faith can firmly trust Him, come what may.” ‘What may come’ may be something more difficult, perhaps, than what we expect. Our daily experiences may not always be easy for us to bear except as we lean upon the strong arm of the Lord, and feel the love and prayers of God’s people on our behalf, giving us help and comfort.

But these are the times when the ripening of the fruit of our characters really occurs. The Apostle James reminds us that his fruit must and will be brought to maturity. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect [complete, mature] and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2,3) As we develop, we are put to the test, and this is the time when the precious promises of God’s Word, and the words of the hymns, become a true source of comfort and strength to us.

What nature was given to our Lord Jesus at his resurrection? I Peter 1:3 affirms that he was raised to the divine nature. And he has made to us that same unspeakable promise, “that [we] might be partakers of the divine nature!” (vs. 4) Can we exercise faith in such a magnificent offer? “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”—Rev. 3:21

But much must be accomplished before we will be ready to become partakers of the divine nature! The gold of our characters must be refined by fire to remove the dross, as fine gold is refined, prepared for the Master’s use. The Apostle Peter’s words come to mind, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [trials]: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto the praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”—I Pet. 1:6,7

The Diaglott translates this passage: “So that the proof of your faith, being much more precious than gold, etc.” Every human being has hard experiences during the time of this present evil world. But the Christians’ reactions to their experiences are what proves their faith. Is your faith being proven? Do you greatly rejoice throughout these manifold trials which are proving your faith? Yes, your gold is being refined that it might be found unto the praise and honor and glory of God!

Think how severely our Master was tried! From Jordan to his last days—the hours in the upper room—the agony in Gethsemane—what mental anguish he endured. He knew that in a few hours he was to be tried, to be smitten, hung upon a cross, and he was alone. In the Garden of Gethsemane, even his disciples fell asleep while he prayed. “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” were his sad and lonely words. He was all alone—none could sympathize with him. From the time of his consecration, Jesus knew he was headed for the cross. He knew his life would end in just three and one-half years. Every morning that he woke up was one day closer to the cross.

But the precious promises sustained our Lord, and they will sustain us in our time of need. Jesus had the very same promises from the Old Testament Scriptures that we have. These same assurances were what buoyed him up and strengthened him in his last hours of trouble, anguish, and loneliness. And they will also carry us through our lifetime down to our last hours, as we put our trust in them as Jesus did. How marvelous it is that these gifts have been guaranteed to us because we decided to follow in the footsteps of our elder brother, Jesus, saying, “Lord, I delight to do thy will.”

At our Jordan, our consecration, we take up our cross. “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) We carry our cross all through our Christian experience, and will lay it down finally when we obtain our hope. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”—Heb 12:2

In II Corinthians the eleventh and twelfth chapters, we learn of the many difficult experiences which the Apostle Paul underwent, emerging triumphantly due to his faith in God and the precious promises! The varied ordeals which he underwent are certainly far above and beyond any we can expect to endure in our lifetime. In an endeavor to stand up to the charges of his enemies he says: “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) [meaning that obviously they are not ministers of Christ, but they claim to be such] I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice I was beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”—vss. 23-28

Aside from the many trials Paul listed, he had a “thorn in the flesh.” (II Cor. 12:7) We remember how Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus, and how, after his conversion to Christianity, his sight was partially restored. But his partial blindness remained with him as a constant reminder throughout his life that he had been called by Jehovah God, that his spiritual eyes had been opened, his spiritual blindness had been healed. He had been a Pharisee, a son of a Pharisee, according to his own words, engaging in the persecution of many Christians after our Lord’s death. (Acts 23:6) But the Lord called him to become an apostle of Jesus Christ, and his physical blindness would never let him forget that fact. Paul wrote, “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”—II Cor. 12:7

Despite these afflictions and ordeals, Paul wrote, “If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities. … Of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.” (II Cor. 11:30; 12:5) It is difficult to see how anyone could take pleasure, or glory, in their infirmities, but apparently the Apostle Paul had learned to appreciate these difficult experiences, and to view them as growing factors—elements usable toward his maturing process as a Christian.

Again he said, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. … He [Jesus] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” What an example! And Paul urges us, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ!”—I Cor. 11:1

Another source of strength to both our Lord and to the Apostle Paul were the words of the psalmist in Psalm 16:8-11: “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. … Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore!” Do we keep these words before us daily and hourly as a constant wellspring of comfort and hope? Ah, yes! It is through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as it shines upon the Word that we have present joy, present hope—not fleeting as the joy and honor the world gives—for these unseen things are eternal.

“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” What a wonderful promise! How we appreciate this counsel from his Word as we seek it daily. How we look forward to the fulfillment of this promise of being received into glory! The wise man, Solomon, also tells us that the Lord will show us his counsel:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path.” Yes, the words of the old hymn are indeed true, “He leadeth me! He leadeth me! By His own hand He leadeth me. His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me!” And our loving Father promises to be our counsel and guide until we take our last breath: “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”—Josh. 1:5

Truly we have a wealth of exceeding great and precious promises! To make a quick outline of others that must not be forgotten we could mention that we will not be hurt of the second death; we shall eat of the tree of life, and the hidden manna; we shall receive a new name; we shall be clothed in white raiment; we shall be made pillars in the temple. These are all personal promises. But the world has many blessed promises also of which now many are unaware. They include: a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness; God’s law will be put in their hearts; God will be their God, and they will be his people; all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord; God will turn to them a pure language, that they may all call upon him to serve him with one consent. These are precious promises indeed!

Let us lay hold on these assurances from our God and our Lord Jesus. “Cast not away your confidence which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”—Heb. 10:35,36

Dawn Bible Students Association
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