Promises

These collected thoughts look at twenty of the promises given by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John. These promises give amazing assurance to all who believe in Christ. 

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004

 

GOD'S PROMISES #1: THE RIGHT TO BE HIS CHILDREN

' ... to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God ... ' (John 1:12).

If we assume, as the Bible does, that God is our Creator, then it true that all people are 'children of God' by virtue of creation.

The Bible also states that, though we were created by God and for God, we have cut ourselves off from him by our rejection of him, and thus identified ourselves as children of the devil.

But God is the eternal Father, whose Father-heart reaches out to us, calling us to return to him. This outstretched hand of God is most clearly demonstrated in his sending of his eternal Son, Jesus Christ, into the world.

In this Son of God, we are confronted by God himself. Here in Jesus Christ we are challenged, here in Jesus Christ we are given our one last chance to reverse our rejection of God.

It is at this point that the promise quoted above takes effect: if we receive Jesus Christ, if we believe in his name, God restores the privilege, the grace, of being true children of God, with all the rights of free access and acceptance in his presence - as if our sin had never occurred.

This, and every promise, contains two challenges: the challenge to believe the promise, and the challenge to put that belief into practice.

Do you believe this promise - that those who receive Jesus Christ are children of God?

And, have you actually received Jesus Christ - have you believed in his name?

Are you then living each moment with this grand assurance that you are God's child - loved, protected, secure?

[Scriptures: Genesis 1:26-2:25; Romans 11:36; Genesis 3; Isaiah 59:2; John 8:42-27; 1 John 3:8-10; John 3:16; Luke 15:11-32; John 12:44-46; 14:6-9; 10:30; 1 John 3:1]

 

GOD'S PROMISES #2: GOD'S GRACE

' From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ'.

Literally the Greek text translates 'because out of his fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace ... '

The focus of this promise is the infinite measure of God's grace. There are other texts that also draw our attention to his boundless grace:

We read of 'God's abundant provision of grace' ... 'his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves' ... 'the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding' ... 'the incomparable riches of his grace' ... 'the grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly'.

What is this promise of grace? And who is it for?

The promise of grace is the promise of an acceptance with God that is not for a moment based on our ability to keep God's law.

The grace that is promised is God's free gift.

This promised grace is more than enough to cover our sins and obtain our acquittal.

It is for all who believe.

To trust in Jesus Christ, and in him alone, for our acceptance with God, is to know this amazing grace.

Out of the fullness of Jesus Christ - all that he is and all that he did - all who believe in him have received, as God's free gift, grace upon grace.

Do you know this grace? Do you know the fullness of peace with God this grace gives? Look at Jesus, the Son of God, dying to pay the penalty due your sins. Believe in him. Trust in him, not in yourself, and God's promise is - abundant grace lavished upon you.

[Scriptures: John 1:16,17; Romans 5:17; Ephesians 1:6,7,8; 2:7; 1 Timothy 1:14; Romans 3:19-26; Ephesians 2:1-10]

 

GOD'S PROMISES # 3: SIN TAKEN AWAY

"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Here in this promise Jesus Christ is called as 'the Lamb of God', identifying him as the one, final, ultimate sacrifice for sin.

All through the Old Testament animal sacrifices were offered to God to atone for sin. A lamb, or other animal, died as a substitute for the person offering the sacrifice. In God's justice the penalty for sin is death - separation from God and from life. In God's mercy an (animal) substitute died instead of the (human) sinner.

But these old sacrifices had to be offered over and over again, as people sinned over and over again. They could never gain permanent forgiveness or permanent acquittal. Nor were they meant to. They were prophetic, ritual symbols, mere shadows of the one, real sacrifice for sin - Jesus Christ.

They were only effective because of the eternal reality of his one, ultimate, once-for-all death.

On the cross of Calvary Jesus Christ died as our substitute, paying in full the death penalty for our sins, so that never again would sin stand as a barrier between us and God, between us and eternal life.

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God - the only real and final sacrifice for sin. For those who have received him, sin no longer has any power or authority to ever again separate them from God. They have already passed over from death to life. They have been set free from the law of sin and death. They already possess eternal life.

[Scriptures: John 1:29; Leviticus 1-7; 16; Genesis 2:17; 3:21-24; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:1-10:18; Revelation 13:8; Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 8:3-5; 10:1; 9:12,26,27; 10:10,12,14; 4:14-16; 10:19-23; Romans 5:6,8,10; 6:5-8; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Galatians 2:20; John 5:24; Romans 8:2; 1 John 5:12]

 

GOD'S PROMISES #4: THE COMING OF THE CHRIST

"We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth ... "

All of the Old Testament promises are contained in this one verse. Here we are told that Moses and the prophets, that is, the whole Old Testament, stood on tip-toe, waiting in eager expectation for the coming of the One of whom it spoke.

This was affirmed by Jesus himself: after his resurrection from the dead he taught his disciples about himself and his death and resurrection 'from the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms'.

His entire life was lived consistently with what was written about him prior to his coming.

The Bible teaches that all that was anticipated in the Old Testament and its covenants has its fulfilment and reality in Jesus Christ. He is the goal towards which it all advanced; he is its secret meaning. In him all the mysteries of the knowledge of God are revealed.

What previously had been veiled in symbol is now an open reality. What previously could not be seen or understood is now fully revealed.

In Jesus Christ we now see the one true God. He is the truth. He is the light of the world. Beyond Jesus Christ there are no further promises, no further knowledge of God. To seek beyond or beside Jesus Christ for truth about God is betray that one has never really known him.

[Scriptures: John 1:45; Matthew 13:16-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12; Luke 24:27,44-49; Matthew 1:22; 4:14; 5:17; 8:15-17; 21:4-5; 26:54-56; Mark 14:49; Luke 4:21; 22:22; John 13:18; 15:23-25; Colossians 2:16,17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1; Colossians 1:25-2:4; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; 2 Corinthians 1:20; John 12:44-46; 1 John 5:20; John 14:6; 8:12; Colossians 1:19; 2:9, 19; 1 John 2:18,19]

 

GOD'S PROMISES #5: ETERNAL LIFE

'God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.'

This is probably the most frequently quoted promise in the Bible. It affirms:

  1. the existence of God;
  2. the attitude of God - God loves;
  3. the extent of God's love - God loves the world;
  4. the expression of God's love - God gave his one and only Son, as a substitutionary sacrifice to pay the death penalty for the sin of the world;
  5. the fact that sin incurs a radical penalty - the word 'perish' means to be destroyed, to be put to death.
  6. the purpose and result of this expression of love - that sin's death penalty is replaced by the gift of eternal life.
  7. that those for whom this promise is effective are those who believe in Jesus Christ, God's Son.

As we look at further promises in the weeks to come the power of this promise will be made clear. In the meantime, if you do not understand who Jesus is, and what it means to believe in him, check out the Who is Jesus? studies on this website. If you do not have assurance of eternal life check out the Assurance of Salvation studies on this website.

Scriptures: John 3:16; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 5:5-8; Jeremiah 31:3; 1 John 4:9-10; John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Hebrews 10:10-18; Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23; 5:21; John 1:12; 3:15-18, 36; 8:24; 1 John 5:20]

 

GOD'S PROMISES # 6: NO CONDEMNATION

'For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned ... '

This promise comes right after the promise we looked at last week. It continues with the thought of God giving his only Son so that those who believe in him will not 'perish'. Two additional and opposing concepts are introduced - the concept of condemnation and the concept of salvation.

The Bible teaches that our universal rejection of the one true God places us all in a state of condemnation in the presence of God, the Judge of all the earth.

The Bible also teaches that there is no way that we, of our own initiative and endeavour, can get ourselves out of that state of condemnation.

But ... God sent his Son into the world - to save the world through him, to rescue us from our inescapable condemnation, to rescue us from the just penalty of our sin, and from the law of sin and death that holds us forever accountable, and to bring us safe into a relationship with himself where there is no more wrath, no more condemnation, no more imposition of the judgements and penalties legally due.

Through Jesus Christ his Son, God's strict justice is upheld. The Son bore, as our substitute, the full legal rap for our sin, so that we may live free forever from sin's condemnation.

Whoever believes in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, already possesses this incredible salvation. Whoever believes in the Son, does not today, and never will, face sin's condemnation.

[Scriptures: John 3:17,18a; Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-31; 5:1-11; 6:23; 8:1-4; Colossians 1:13]

 

GOD'S PROMISES #7: TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE

'Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.'

What does it mean to 'believe in the Son'?

Firstly, the Bible makes it clear that genuine faith, genuine believing, is present tense believing. The confession of genuine faith is not 'I once believed in Jesus Christ' or 'I used to believe in Jesus Christ'. It is 'I believe in Jesus Christ'.

True faith persists. True faith endures. This is because of the absolute significance and integrity of the object of Christian faith. True Christian faith believes that Jesus Christ is 'the Son' - that he is the eternal Son of God, equal in all respects to God the Father, worthy of the same honour and worship as Jehovah God. Indeed, the faith 'in the Son' that the Bible talks about is the belief that Jesus Christ is the one true God, the Lord of all.

True faith will never give up, because true faith knows that in believing in 'the Son', it has received the one genuine God.

Just as surely as no-one who knew they had chosen the one genuine $100 bill from among nine counterfeit $100 bills would change their minds and go back and take one of the nine counterfeits, so no one who has truly understood and believed the claims of Jesus Christ will then reject him for a lesser 'god'.

True faith believes. Present tense.

But there is a second thing in this promise that is present tense: has eternal life. Right now. Today. Those who believe in the Son, Jesus Christ, have (present tense) eternal life. What is eternal life? Not life stretched out, but life outside of time, life reconnected with the source of all life, God himself, as revealed and identified in Jesus Christ, the Lord of life. Already, right now, those who believe in the Son, have this life.

[Scriptures: John 3:36; 3:15,16,18; 5:16-23; 8:24; Exodus 3:14; John 10:30; 12:44-46; 14:6-9; Romans 9:5; 10:9; 1 John 5:20; Revelation 19:16; John 5:24; John 1:1-4; 6:35; 11:25; 14:6; 1 John 1:1,2; 5:12]

 

GOD'S PROMISES #8: TRANSFER FROM DEATH TO LIFE

'I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.'

This is an amazing three-part promise from the mouth of Jesus Christ.

  1. It repeats the promise of present eternal life that we have already seen in previous promises.
  2. It tells us clearly that those who hear the words of Jesus Christ and believe the one who sent him, will not be condemned. Our human idea, reflected in a great variety of religions and cults around the world, is that our escape from sin's consequences in life and death is dependent on our merit and performance, leaving us with no real assurance that we have sufficient good to offset our bad. Here in the gospel of Jesus Christ the prerequisite is simple: hear and believe.
  3. To further clarify his meaning Jesus adds: 'he has crossed over from death to life'. By this phrase he shows us that being 'condemned' is the equivalent of 'death', and not being 'condemned' is the equivalent of 'has eternal life'. In the original Greek the significance of the language is 'he has crossed over, and remains crossed over, out of death and into life'.

What does this promise mean? It means that those who truly hear and genuinely believe the message of Jesus Christ have already crossed over from the place where the death penalty (condemnation, judgement) for sin must inevitably fall on them, and are now, and always will be, in the place where sin's condemnation (penalty, judgement) will not, and can not, ever again fall on them.

This is a promise we can depend on. For this life, and beyond death. The eternal Son of God, who said only the things that God says, said it. It is guaranteed. This is the amazing assurance of those who believe in Jesus Christ: that, because of him, there is no condemnation, no judgement, no punishment for sin. Not now. Not ever.

[Scriptures: John 5:24; 3:16,17,36; 1 John 5:11,12; Romans 5:12-21; Colossians 1:13; John 7:16; 8:28; Romans 4:16; 8:1-4, 31-39]

For further information: go to the studies on 'Justification/Righteousness' and 'Peace' in the Words of Salvation studies on this website.

 

GOD'S PROMISES # 9: SPIRITUAL CONTENTMENT

'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'

In this promise we can identify a number of significant facts:

  1. That here Jesus Christ claims to be the one and only source of spiritual nourishment. He is the bread of life - not one among many, but 'the'. By inference, all other sources of spiritual nourishment will, in the long run, prove unsatisfying, unable to sustain us spiritually.
  2. That the way to be sustained by this 'bread of life' is to 'come' to Jesus Christ, that is, to 'believe in' him. This is not some superficial, uncommitted coming to or believing in Jesus Christ. It is a coming, a believing, that expresses a fundamental acknowledgement that he is exactly who he claimed to be, and to relate to him on that basis.
  3. That whoever has come to Jesus and believed in him will from that point on be filled with a deep and lasting spiritual satisfaction and contentment: they will have no more need to seek here, there and everywhere for 'god' or for 'truth' or for 'union with the divine', or for any other spiritual blessing, for they know that in coming to Jesus Christ, in believing in him, they have come to the one supreme God of the whole universe; they have come to him in whom there is limitless love, grace and forgiveness; they have returned to him by whom and for whom they were created, and in that returning have found their true and complete identity.

In union with Christ, they are complete. In union with Christ they have perfect rest for their souls.

[Scriptures: John 6:32-35; John 8:30-31; Matthew 7:15-27; James 2:14-24; Romans 9:5; 1 John 5:20; John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:1; 4:9,10; Ephesians 1:6-8; 2:4-9; Colossians 2:13,14; 1:15-17; 2:10; 3:3; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:10]

 

GOD'S PROMISES #10: NEVER TURNED AWAY

' ... whoever comes to me I will never drive away.'

Here is another promise of great assurance from the mouth of Jesus Christ.

Firstly, there is the open-ended 'whoever'. Whoever comes to Jesus Christ ... whoever out of all the sceptics and the doubters and the unbelievers ... comes to Jesus, is the recipient of this promise. This 'whoever' is you, it you want it to be.

Secondly, is the central issue, the qualifier, which separates those who receive this promise from those who don't: whoever 'comes to me'.

We need to understand what 'coming to' is, and who Jesus is, for many, to human observation, seem to come to Jesus, yet the passing of time sees them deny him one way or another.

Coming to Jesus is the same as believing in him, receiving him. It is acknowledging that he is exactly who he claimed to be - the Son of God, to whom is due the same honour as is due to God, the Father; and, in that acknowledgement, confessing that he is indeed the Lord, who demands both our trust and our obedience.

Coming to Jesus is thus coming to him because he is who he is. It is not coming to him for what we can get. Nor is it coming to him for what we can escape from. Those who really come to Jesus, come to him because they have seen that he is the one true God.

To those who so acknowledge him this promise is given: that he will never drive them away. Neither their sin nor their guilt nor their failures will ever cause him to drive away those who truly come to him, because his kingdom is a kingdom where grace reigns, where the law of sin and death no longer has the power to condemn the guilty sinner, where reconciliation and peace with God have replaced enmity and wrath, where the present possession of eternal life has replaced the death of separation from God.

[Scriptures: John 6:37; Matthew 7:21-27; 13:18-23; John 2: 23-25; 6:66-70; 1:12; 5:23; Romans 10:9; 1 John 4:15; 5:1-5, 20; Romans 5:21; 8:1-2; 5:1-11; John 3:16; 5:24]

 

GOD'S PROMISES #11: RESURRECTION

'For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.'

This promise is grounded in God's will: this is God's will: that all who really see Jesus Christ, all who really believe in him, will have eternal life, and will be raised up by Jesus Christ at the last day.

The promise of eternal life is stated repeatedly in both John's Gospel and John's first letter. And repeatedly this promise of eternal life is directly related to believing in Jesus Christ.

We humans do not like the thought of our own death; we shrink from the idea that we will one day no longer be alive. Around the world in the various religions that humans embrace, there is consistent evidence of a quest for immortality, for assurance that death is not the end.

In the promises of Jesus Christ the answer to this yearning is made abundantly clear: come to him, and you will live; believe in him and he will raise you from death.

On what authority does Jesus Christ make this absolute and ultimate promise? On what authority does he make this guarantee not just of spiritual life after death, but of resurrection of the physical body?

Firstly, because he is the source of all life; and secondly, because he has himself personally conquered death, rising from death to live again. He holds the keys of life and death.

To all who hope to live beyond the grave he says: come to me, acknowledge me as your God, and you will live.

[Scriptures: John 6:40, 39, 44; 3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 6:47, 51,53-58; 10:27,28; 11:25,26; 1 John 5:11,12,20; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58; John 1:1-4; Colossians 1:16; Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-19; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1-21:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Revelation 1:17-18; 2:8; John 1:12; 5:39-40]

 

GOD'S PROMISES # 12: LIFE

' ... the one who feeds on me will live because of me'

This promise is another of the many promises spoken by Jesus Christ in the sixth chapter of John's Gospel.

Using the physical symbols of 'feeding', 'eating' and 'bread', Jesus again makes a direct connection between himself and life.

He has twice told us that he is the bread of life. He has told us that he both gives, and is, the food that endures to eternal life, the true bread from heaven which God, the Father, gives from heaven, and the living bread that came down from heaven.

He tells us that if we 'eat' him, the true bread from heaven, we will not die, but will live forever. In fact, he says, that if we do not 'eat his flesh' we have no life in us. Only those who 'feed on' him live because of him.

By way of this symbolic language Jesus is speaking of spiritual life - life reconnected to God, the source of all life. Such is the identity between God and Jesus Christ that he said: 'When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.'

To believe in Jesus Christ is to know the one, true God; to see him, is to see the one, true God. Thus when we realize and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is indeed God in human flesh, we are reconnecting with him who is life and the source of life.

Without this reconnection, Jesus says, we have no life in us; we are, as stated elsewhere, 'dead in transgressions and sins', severed from God, in whom alone is spiritual life.

Many of Jesus' hearers were offended by these claims made by Jesus Christ in John 6, and ceased their allegiance to him. Only the twelve disciples remained with him, and one of them did not believe.

Now the challenge confronts each one of us: do we believe in Jesus Christ? Are we feeding on him? Or are we among those who cannot handle his claims to have come down from heaven, and to be the one and only place where eternal life can be found?

[Scriptures: John 6:57; John 6:25-70 - various verses; John 12:44,45; Ephesians 2:5; Isaiah 59:2; Matthew 16:15].

 

GOD'S PROMISES # 13: LIGHT

'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'

In this promise Jesus makes the second of his absolute claims. Here he states: I am the light of the world. He does not claim to be one light among a number of lights from which we might choose, but to be the light, that is, the one, true, spiritual light, for the whole world.

On the basis of this exclusive claim he makes the promise: 'whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'.

The clear implication of this promise is that if we are not following Jesus Christ we are walking in spiritual darkness, even if we think we see.

John wrote concerning the coming of Jesus Christ: 'The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.' And 'This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.'

In Jesus Christ the darkness of ignorance of God is dispersed: he himself said: 'If you knew me, you would know my Father also', 'I and the Father are one', 'When a man looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness', 'Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"?'

Never again do we need to ask the question 'What is God like?' Never again do we need to be in the dark about God. In the person of the Son, Jesus Christ, he has come to us. In Jesus Christ the words of the prophet are fulfilled: 'the glory of the Lord will be revealed ... "Here is your God!"'

[Scriptures: John 8:12; 1:3; 3:19; 8:19; 10:30; 12:45,46; 14:9; Isaiah 40:5,9; 2 Corinthians 4:6].

 

GOD'S PROMISES #14: FREEDOM [1]

'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'

In this promise, as it was originally written in the Greek language, four things exist together:

  1. remaining (that is, staying or having one's permanent residence) in the teaching of Jesus Christ,
  2. being truly the disciples of Jesus Christ,
  3. knowing the truth, and
  4. being set free by that truth.

The first automatically produces the other three. Without it they do not exist.

There are many who listen to the teaching of Jesus Christ for a while, then either abruptly or gradually discard it: these have never truly been the disciples of Jesus Christ, they have never really known the truth, they have never actually been set free.

Those who have really received the teaching of Jesus Christ - that he is the only source of spiritual life, of knowledge of God, of reconnection with God - will remain in his teaching.

They know that they have found in Jesus Christ and his teaching the one ultimate and eternal treasure, beside which all other promises of spiritual life and knowledge are insignificant.

Those who have found God and life by finding Jesus Christ have been set free, and continue to be set free, from all the lostness and incompleteness, all the spiritual emptiness and searching, that characterizes human life.

[Scriptures: John 8:31,32; 2:23-25; 6:60-69; 1 John 3:18-19; John 10:28-29; Matthew 13:44-46; Philippians 3:7-10; Colossians 2:10].

 

GOD'S PROMISES #15: FREEDOM [2]

'If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'

This promise complements the promise quoted last week, 'the truth will set you free', and in doing so presents us with two significant equations: that 'knowing the truth' equals 'knowing the Son', and 'the truth' equals 'the Son'.

This 'Son' is Jesus Christ - the eternal God, who for a while, lived among us humans as one of us.

He 'sets us free' in two fundamental ways: firstly, he sets us free from all of our delusions, darkness and ignorance about who or what 'god' is. He defines, he displays, he identifies God precisely. To know him is to have our questions about God answered, for here, in the Son, we see God. We need search for God no longer.

Secondly, Jesus Christ sets us free from that cosmic human mentality that seeks to attain and maintain union or reunion with 'god' by its own human effort. His death demonstrates once and for all that this quest, this human longing to gain acceptance with God is futile: that it can only end in condemnation and rejection.

But the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, also provides for the reversal of that condemnation and rejection: here, in his death, our sin is condemned and punished; here, in his death, we are rejected. In the death of Jesus Christ as our substitute, we are set free from the damnation due to us.

Thus, in his living, the Son sets us free from our ignorance of the true God, and, in his dying, he sets us free from the just penalty and condemnation of our sins.

To receive this Son of God is to be free indeed.

[Scriptures: John 8:36, 32; 1 John 5:20; John 1:14; 12:44-46; 14:5-10; Romans 3:19-20; Philippians 3:1-9; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:19].

 

GOD'S PROMISES # 16: SPIRITUAL LIFE

'I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.'

The literal translation of this statement is 'Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, death never will he see forever.'

This literal translation reveals [1] the attention drawn by the 'truly, truly' to the significance Jesus placed on this promise; [2] the deliberate identifying of his word - as opposed to all other words; [3] the intense nature of the negative; and [4] the limitless duration of this promise.

At first glance this strong promise seems to make its fulfillment dependent on obeying Christ's commands. We interpret 'keep' to mean 'obey' and 'word' to mean 'commands'. We do this because our hearts automatically understand our relationship with God to be gained and maintained by our own performance - by our own supposed obedience to God's laws.

But let us note: [1] the 'word' which we are to 'keep' is singular: it refers to the totality of the teachings of Christ, [2] to 'keep' is something far greater than obedience; it stands in opposition not to disobedience but to letting go of or losing.

To those who have embraced his teaching, Jesus gives this powerful promise: they will never see death, and this never seeing death lasts for ever.

What does this never seeing death for ever mean? Not physical death, for we all die. It refers, rather, to that death which is separation from God, the source and giver of life, to that death which is the result and just penalty of sin.

To those who keep his word - who neither discard nor deny his teaching about himself - the promise of endless, deathless, life is given.

[Scriptures: John 8:51].

 

GOD'S PROMISES #17: ENTRY TO LIFE

'I am the gate for the sheep ... whoever enters through me will be saved' (John 10:7,9).

Jesus here gives us a picture of an ancient sheep-fold - an enclosure with only one entry point - and with this image teaches us:

  1. That he is the one and only entry point into the 'fold' of God - into God's presence, into God's family, into heaven. He, Jesus Christ, is the gate or door.
  2. That if we enter 'through him' we 'will be saved'- that is, we will be safe in God's presence, safe from his judgement, and safe from all that would destroy us spiritually.
  3. That anyone forcing entry any other way - anyone trying to enter God's presence any other way, and anyone who presents a way of salvation other than Jesus Christ, 'is a thief and a robber' (John 10:1,8,) with evil intentions.

This promise presents a grand assurance to those to believe in Jesus Christ; it also presents a strong warning to those who would either teach or follow a way of salvation other than Jesus Christ.

He is the gate. All other proposed entry points into the presence of God are, by these verses, identified as illegitimate and destructive.

This promise has even more significance, which we will see when we look at Christ's claim to the 'the Shepherd' next week.

 

GOD'S PROMISES #18: CHRIST DIED FOR US

'I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.'

This promise is intimately connected with the promise that identified Jesus as 'the gate'.

In some ancient sheep-folds there was no door or gate - only a doorway or gateway, an opening. At night the shepherd would sleep in this opening, becoming himself the 'gate' or 'door' that kept his sheep inside the fold and kept marauding animals outside the fold.

He literally laid his life on the line for the safety and security of his sheep.

Jesus Christ is such a shepherd. Not only is he the one and only entry point to spiritual life and salvation: he also laid down his life to gain and maintain that life and salvation for us.

Most people believe that spiritual life and salvation is obtained by our own efforts - by our performance of and adherence to particular moral codes or religious rituals.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, teaches otherwise, identifying spiritual life and salvation as a gift from God, dependent on God's grace, not our performance, given automatically to all who receive and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, made possible by his substitutionary bearing of the death penalty for our sin, and guaranteed by his resurrection from the dead.

Jesus, the good Shepherd, is calling you into his fold. Hear his voice. Listen to his voice. And follow him in ultimate spiritual safety and security.

[Scriptures: John 10:11, 7; Ephesians 2:8,9; John 1:12; Romans 10:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24,25; John 10:14-16, 27-29].

 

GOD'S PROMISES #19: SECURITY

'My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.'

We have already looked at God's promise that those who believe in him have eternal life and will never perish. Stated here, these promises are given to 'my sheep' who 'listen to my voice ... and ... follow me.' So we learn that those who believe are those who listen to the voice of Jesus Christ and follow him.

This gives substance to the act of believing. It is not mere intellectual assent; it is a belief that both listens and walks; it is a belief that has hands and feet dedicated to following Jesus. This is the only genuine belief that the Bible knows.

But to those who have in this way recognized and begun to follow the great Shepherd of the sheep this incredible promise is given: no one can snatch them out of the hand of Jesus Christ; no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father.

Why? Because the Father is greater than all - greater than all the enemies of God's people, greater than all those who stand in opposition to his truth and his gospel. And because the Father and the Son are of one mind, one purpose, one love - a mind, purpose and love demonstrated beyond question in this: that the Father gave the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

In this is the ultimate in security. In this all the fear of God's wrath and judgement is for ever blown away. Grasp hold of this promise and live with the sheer peace and joy of it!

[Scriptures: John 10:27-30; 3:16; 5:24; James 2:14-26; 1 John 1:6,7; 2:9-11; 4:4; Colossians 2:15; 1 John 4:8-18].

 

GOD'S PROMISES #20: CHRIST'S POWER OVER DEATH

'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.'

Like many of the other promises we have considered, here too we are confronted by an incredible claim expressed by Jesus Christ. Here too we see the close association between Jesus Christ and life. Here also we see the strong severance between death and those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ here promises us that he is the resurrection, and he is the life, automatically excluding by this statement all other hopes of life beyond death, automatically excluding by this statement all other supposed sources of life.

His claim and his promise are absolute. They allow for no real rivals.

Do you want resurrection - life beyond and in spite of death?

The simple answer, the absolute answer is here in these words of Jesus: believe in him.

He himself is life. He himself is the resurrection - the power of life in spite of death.

He proved it here in John 11 when by the power of his spoken word he undid death and restored life in the decomposing body of Lazarus his friend.

He demonstrated it again in his own resurrection: he, having died, of his own power and authority resumed life.

He who in the beginning created all that exists out of nothing, has also the power and the authority to re-create life out of death, to satisfy and undo the just judgement of God upon sin and set death's captives free to live at peace in the presence of God.

This is his promise to all who believe in him.

[Scriptures: John 11:25,26, 38-44; 10:17,18; 1:1-4; Colossians 1;16,17; Hebrews 1:2].