Friday, September 09, 2011

Standing on the Promises

A friend of mine recently raised the issue of Christians who claim O.T. promises that, with a closer reading of the text, cannot really be claimed by a Christian in Ohio. For example, back in the 80’s, it was very in vogue to claim the promises of Deuteronomy 28. In so doing, people never mention the curses for disobedience in the same chapter, nor the fact that to receive many of the promises one had to be “in the land” of Israel. Having said that, I don't want to squash to faith of anyone who is looking for the good that our Heavenly Father has for us. So, here's a defense for claiming a few of the really good promises.

1) Gal 3:16 states, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. (NIV)” If I am Part of Abraham's seed, then I am heir to his promises. Ephesians 1:4-6 says that we were chosen (in Christ) to be adopted as sons and daughters. Even though I am not a Jew, I am part of God’s “Chosen people” by the rights of adoption through the legal payment of the Messiah. Legally adopted children have the full rights of heirs. If I am adopted as one of God’s sons, even though adopted, I am no less an heir.

2) Romans 11:17-24 explains how Gentiles (of which I am one) are grafted into Israel.  If I am grafted into the original tree, then I am heir to the promises.

3) Some promises are very specific about place, time, and the activities that one must do in order to appropriate the promise; e.g., Deut. 28. Others are more general and serve paradigmatically as expressions of a positive relationship. For example, promises that flow from God's character may be appropriated by anyone at any time because God does not change. 2 Chron. 7:14 (which Joe mentioned above) occurs in time, but Solomon's prayer is intentionally irrespective of time, as is God's answer. While Solomon's prayer is specific about place, God's answer is noticeably devoid of a place reference. The only limiters in God's answer are 1) those who make up "my people" and 2) the attitude of those people. Again, since I have been grafted/adopted into that people/family and am an heir to the promises provided by the Messiah, the only limiting factor is my attitude. The promise is a clear reflection of God's character. It will never change. If I humble myself and pray, if I seek His face and turn from my wicked ways, He will hear from heaven...

4) Again, in the vein of O.T. promises that are based on God’s unchanging character, there are promises that may be appropriated by God’s children by virtue of His role of father. Matthew 7:11 states, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

There are some who mis-claim promises, rewriting them to suit their selfish desires; but they are a small number compared to the millions who do not know of (or do not appropriate) the glorious "riches of Christ Jesus" that come with a restored relationship to God and the joy of being grafted into His people and adoption as His child.

Two more scriptures to consider:
Ro 15:8-9 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.”

2Co 1:20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

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