Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Substance of Promise

I will never keep a promise I make to God. In contrast, God will never break the promise that has been made to us. First, why the sharp contrast of promissory ideas? There is a difference in the substance of a promise I make to God and the reverse of that promise. My purpose is not to argue that God always keeps a promise; instead, I contend that there is a reason I can never keep a promise I make to God.

Second, if there is such a difference in the idea of a promise, what, then, is a promise? In some cases, it is a covenant, a contract, an agreement between God and the people of God (1 Kings 2, 8; Hag. 2). In other cases, it is a gift (Acts 2). It is also a declaration of a fulfilled covenant (Acts 26). A promise can even mean the response to faith, over and above the law (Rom. 4; Gal. 3, 4). Yet, another form of promise, is hope (1 Tim 4). Promise even comes in patience and waiting (2 Peter 3). In all of these cases, it appears that God is the one maintaining the promissory agreement; nevertheless, all of these occurrences of the idea of promise are unique in form and function.

In turn, what sort of promises can I make to a God who holds and maintains such diverse promises? Truthfully, this is why I look to the ultimate promise of God, the cross event – death and resurrection – which fulfills justification. For, I am not capable of such diverse, numerous, or magnificent promises; conversely, I am capable of promising God that I’ll be more pious or whatever have you for the sake of personal gain. Obviously, I am not alone in the art of breaking promises to God, but grace has freed me from the shame of failure.

As a result of God’s promise through resurrection, the law has been fulfilled and my pious promises are outdated gestures. Thus, I no longer make promises to God because God’s promises to me – moreover, us – are undoubtedly more effective. “Lord, thank you for keeping, holding, and governing the promises that matter; so that we do not have to watch ourselves wallow in the grief of failure. For, you are the source of greater promise – by way of death and resurrection.” We are justified through the promises of God and forgiven for our trespasses. Thanks be to God.

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