Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Nature of the Promise

"Everyone who believes in Him shall be saved"

This is one of the most oft used phrases in the New Testament, especially in John's Gospel. Since this is true, and since we become so familiar with it, especially in the regularly quoted John 3:16, I hope to take another look at the promise contained within and how significant it is.

A few points regarding the promise:

1. It points to Christ
The promise directs our eyes elsewhere -specifically, to Christ. It is God's solemn testimony of the sufficiency and perfect Mediatorship of the Son. It says "He won't fail, He can't fail, He doesn't fail."It sends the miserable, broken, sullen sin-sick soul to Christ.

2. It is assuring
It points to Christ this without hesitation and without any room for unbelief. The promise assures the conscience. It says that we will find Him to be all that we need in a Savior and more. It reminds us, who already trust in the Lord Christ, that He is all that we need in a Savior and more.

3. It is descriptive
The promise describes the act of God in saving men. The elect of God are the only ones who are drawn by the Father to Christ, and this is absolutely necessary because all men under Adam are unable to come to Him otherwise. Thus, the words of the promise are descriptive of God's sovereign redemptive work toward His elect. It describes an eschatological circumstance for His people and how they are known. His people, the believing ones, are saved and shall be saved from condemnation at the end of the age.

4. It is specific
Who shall be saved? All the ones believing into Him. It speaks nothing about generalities, as some imagine. It tells us very plainly who the ones are that shall be saved.

As Calvin noted:

Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and
certain knowledge of God's benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the
freely given promise of Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our
hearts through the Holy Spirit (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
(ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; Philadelphia; Westminster,
1960) 3.2.7. )


The promise here is a thing of gold. A promise from the Holy One to sinners. Let us get up from our slumber, yes, even over something this simple. And let our eyes be directed to Christ, our hearts assured, and our minds informed of this great salvation He has for us from even something as common as the promise of life in Christ to those who believe.

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