Concise Lexicon of Christianity

Ken Collins’ Website

Teachings, worship, rites, sermons, and terminology

Standing on the Promises

For he will command his angels concerning you
     to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
     so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
     you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Because he loves me, says the LORD, I will rescue him;
     I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
     I will be with him in trouble,
     I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
     and show him my salvation.

—Psalm 91:11-16, NIV

Go to any Christian bookstore and you can find those little books that contain promises from the Bible. They encourage you to apply those promises to yourself, but if you do it, you will eventually be disappointed. Well, let’s be blunt and admit it straight out—many of those promises simply do not work. They don’t change a thing! Your life is still filled with hardship, adversity, and heartache, and with vindication that comes too late to do you any good. Your good looks fade and you lose your physique. Once you had to let the children win, now they can easily run rings around you. All the people your age somehow got to be 15 years younger than you, and some practical joker put a portrait of some old person on all the mirrors in your house. You develop permanent pains, and you pretty soon you have little pills that you have to take every day for the rest of your life.

Invoking the promises from that little book doesn’t change any of that. You can read Psalm 91 until you’re blue, but you’ll still strike your foot against a stone, you won’t be immune to cobra venom, and if you climb into the lion’s cage at the local zoo, the outcome won’t be pretty.

It isn’t long before you realize that the Bible isn’t a book of magical incantations, and that using it for that purpose only leads to disappointment. But there is a very good reason why those promises don’t work for you. They aren’t for you, they are for Jesus! All of the Law and the Prophets are about Him, not you.

Even the devil knows that!

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down. For it is written:
     ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
          and they will lift you up in their hands,
     so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

     Jesus answered him, It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.
—Matthew 4:5-7, NIV

Notice that Jesus responds to the devil’s attempt to get Him to test His Father, but He tacitly agrees that the Scripture applies to Him.

Life is like a camping trip where everything has gone wrong. If your life is like mine, you’ve been through a thunderstorm and a flash flood, fallen trees are blocking the road, the jeep broke down, wildcats are prowling nearby, bears ate all the food, help is far away, and someone forgot to pack the tents! But there is one guy in the group with a global positioning device and a satellite phone. He’s an important executive in a big company, and you know that someone has made promises to him. You know that if you get on his good side, become his friend, and stick with him, the helicopter that comes to rescue him will rescue you as well.

Jesus is that important executive. This is why we have to trust, love, and obey Him. He isn’t the guarantor of the promises, He is the beneficiary. All the promises were made to Him! On Easter Day, at His resurrection, He not only proved that the promises were made to Him, He also proved all that those promises are being kept! All the promises in the Bible are to Him, about Him, and for Him. Therefore we know that if we get on his good side, if we become his friends, if we stick with him and do what he says, the power that raised Him from the grave will raise us up as well.

I’ve long given up on winning the state lottery. The odds are so bad I can’t even imagine a good reason for paying the Commonwealth of Virginia a dollar to find out that I’m a loser. I can’t inherit a fortune, either, because I don’t have any wealthy relatives to bequeath one to me. But even if I did win the lottery or inherit a fortune, I could lose it all to time and chance, not to mention taxes. Even if that doesn’t happen, I will someday die, and then it will not benefit me at all. Most likely, you are in the same situation that I am in.

However, don’t lose heart, because all is not lost! The next best thing to winning a lottery or inheriting a fortune is to have a close and generous friend who has. That is exactly the situation you are in! Jesus has not only inherited a great fortune, He is willing to make you a joint heir in an inheritance that transcends even death!

Therefore, trust the Lord Jesus, love Him, and prove your love through your obedience to His commands. Then He will make you a joint heir and share His riches with you, and you will live with Him in His glory forevermore!