Using those two phrases together almost seems silly, doesn't it? These are two virtually iconic parts of our modern evangelical heritage (for better or for worse), and yet in this title I am not putting them together to talk about us. I'm not going to talk about our purpose. I'm not going to talk about being a promise-keeper. Here, I am talking about the One who is the ultimate, true, faithful purpose-driven Promise-Keeper.
God is the One who purposes this marvelous salvation and brings it to pass, and God is the One who makes us such a great and gracious promise and is powerful and faithful to keep it. Our God is pretty hard to top in the departments of having and ensuring a firm purpose and making and keeping promises. He is second to none, as it should be.
Our faith itself is both an expression of His purpose and a thing established upon His promise of the Gospel and His faithfulness in keeping all of His promises. It is an expression of His purpose because our faith is a gift, bestowed according to His sovereign good pleasure, according to the plan of Him who works all things for His glory. It is established upon His promise because saving faith, in its barest essence, is founded upon the freely given promise of mercy in Christ.
Calvin defined faith (in his Institutes of the Christian Religion) beautifully when he wrote,
"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 "
The veracity of God's promise, the knowledge and consideration of the One promising it, the Savior upon whom the promise stands for its efficacy, revealed to our minds and sealed upon us by the Spirit, is what the true essence of saving faith is. When it all comes down to it, it is a simple and small thing.
1. The faithfulness and truthfulness of the Promiser. When He promises that everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus shall be saved, that every sinner who gives up on his fruitless self-justification and rests wholly upon the Savior and His saving merits shall find eternal rest, it is a matter of simple reason to see that the first piece of this promise stands upon the faithfulness and truthfulness of the Promiser. Does God lie? Can He? No. Is He ever unfaithful in keeping His promises? Never.
2. The sufficiency of the One upon whom the efficacy of the promise stands. The thing promised is carried out by the One the promise points to. The promise of life and pardon to everyone who looks to Jesus is a promise that points to Jesus. It points to Him as the Answer we need. It points to His sufficiency, for otherwise God would indeed be a liar. Imagine if God could make such a promise with an insufficient Savior. What an abominable suggestion! Christ's own Person, His own merits, demonstrate His sufficiency, and God's very Word, which is always true, testifies to His sufficiency by virtue of making that Gospel promise to us miserable sinners. What an awesome thing!
Next time you are down, confused, frustrated, and you feel like the light of Christ's countenance above you has been all but extinguished, remember the simple purity of the promise. Remember the faithfulness of God. No matter what you feel, no matter what is going on, no matter what lies Satan might throw your way to cause you to stumble, the promise is sure -more sure than anything else. God purposed it, God keeps it, God brings it to pass.