There are many ways to look at the Bible. It all depends on where you are in your life or your attitude. One particularly common way to look at God’s Word and the promises contained in the Scripture posits that the Bible is a collection of cautionary tales and stern commandments. According to this view, the Bible is a compilation of behavior modification rules that severely restrict a person’s freedom. Consequently, people are only ‘blessed’ if they follow God’s commands. In short, people must do A, for God to do B for them or to them. God’s promises, according to this reading, is conditional. You have to be good to get goodies. This is justification by works in its most basic form. While Martin Luther launched the Protestant movement to help steer people away from this reading of Bible truth, the idea that God owes blessings to those that follow His commands and law first still endures.
Another fairly popular way to look at God’s promises in the Bible is that they are mystical incantations that people who want certain things to happen merely ‘claim.’ No context needed. If you have a need you merely need to keep mentioning the verses relevant to your need and, since God’s word doesn’t come back to him void according to Deuteronomy, you are sure to collect the promised blessing. This is a misreading of God’s promises. God’s promises all relate to salvation and God’s will. They are not categorized collections of special spells you invoke if you need certain things to happen. Viewing God’s promises in this light results in God being reduced to a cosmic Santa Claus or a personal genie dispensing grace like a vending machine. Neither view is supported by the Bible regardless of how appealing such views may be.
Claiming the Promises of God as specified by God
As stern-sounding as the Ten Commandments in Exodus may be, one only need to look at the ‘repetition’ of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy to see the real context of the Ten Commandments. In fact, it is probably more accurate to say that the Ten Commandments are Ten promises. Moses always prefaces ‘commands’ with the wording to the effect ‘because I led you out of the land of Egypt’ or similar phrases. The commands are preceded by a recitation of God’s grace. Viewed in the light of Grace, the Ten Commandments are not stern-sounding self-limiting and freedom-constricting edicts handed down by an arbitrary god but promises. If you abide in God, you SHALL be able to do so and so. In short, if you claim God’s grace, he promises you can follow rules of conduct that are aimed at protecting and enriching your life. In the light of God’s grace, the commandments are revealed to be the Rules of Love. If we abide in his love, we become truthful and can avoid bearing false witness. If we abide in his love, we become faithful and avoid the temptations of adultery so on down the line. The ten commandments are really the Ten Promises, and the key is God’s grace-the product of his unquenchable love for us. In fact, all the prohibitions in the Bible should be looked at as promises since obedience to them is the fruit of our love for God.
Claiming a Christian Life
Similarly, instead of looking at God as a cosmic dispenser of blessings based on automatic incantations, the Bible, most particularly the New Testament, teaches us that claiming Christ’s promises must first focus on His will. God wills that our hearts of stone be changed into hearts of flesh. God wills that we be humble to his Word and the Holy Spirit so we can mature as Christians. As the book of Galatians teaches us, if we submit fully to the Holy Spirit, he will give us the fruit of the spirit. These are love, joy, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, patience, meekness, peace, and self-control. Claiming these promises unlocks a whole new Christian life in accordance to God’s will. In short, by claiming these fruit, we also claim Christ’s promise in Second Corinthians that, in Him, we will become new creatures. Interestingly enough, the fruit of the Spirit and the renewal it brings with it leads the way to all sorts of emotional, personal, interpersonal, and financial riches. Each of these virtues are key ingredients for successful marriages and friendships. They are essential for getting along in our community, living a peaceful life, and becoming prosperous but these are merely ‘fringe benefits.’ The real and main goal should be to be born again in Christ and abide in Him. This is how we should claim His promises-focusing only on His will. And everything else is just extra gravy.
Robert Moment is a life coach, speaker and author of several life-changing books including, Christian Youth: Its Cool to Believe in God for Love, Acceptance, Friendship , Protection and Direction. Robert loves people and enjoys helping them. Robert specializes in maximizing human potential for happiness, purpose and success. Visit http://www.AChristianYouth.com and sign-up for the FREE 5 Day e-Course titled, Christian Youth: Be Inspired to Live for God.