The Promises of God

The Promises of God in the New Testament usually equate to the promise of eternal life after our struggle in this life1. At the end of the day, our life means nothing if there is no promise of resurrection or eternal life. This promise is explicitly mentioned multiple times in the New Testament by Our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Paul, and most clearly when St. John writes “And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life” The promise of eternal life is at the center of our lives as human beings. However, God has promised us many other promises in this life in hope of attaining eternal life. 

“In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33), as weird as this sounds, this is a promise of God. The promise that as long as we are in this world we will experience tribulation and undergo trials. He follows up the promise of tribulation by explaining that we should “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Christ makes sure to say this right after He tells us there will be tribulation, as if to correlate our tribulation with Victory in Christ. Christ seems to emphasize this point since He knows and has experienced tribulation as a human, especially knowing that at that moment it seems as if tribulation will never end, but He reassures us, as St. Paul said “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrew 4:15). Not only does Christ promise us that he was already victorious but also that we shall be rewarded for our tribulation, that in “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). To be clear, this is not a promise that the tribulations will be easy, it is only an assurance that they are easy in comparison to the reward for the tribulation, thus St. Paul refers to them as “light” and “but for a moment”. St. John Chrysostom explains this verse very simply by saying “Do you see how the love of God reduces the intensity of troubles and prevents our having any sense of them as they befall us?”. A contemporary orthodox father was explaining how our relationship with God through struggle is almost romantic. He explains that just as a spouse waits for their spouse to come home before eating, even after a long work day without food, for the sake of spending time with the one they love. So we also await for the heavenly banquet, undergoing struggle and tribulation  for the sake of our Lord Jesus Chirst that we may be able to dine with him. That in the struggle of hunger, we endure because of our love for our spouse, so also in our tribulations we endure because of our love for God. 

 

Another promise God has made with us is that of forgiveness. St. John the Beloved explicitly writes “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness(1 John 1:9).” Our Lord promises us forgiveness of all our sins as long as we are willing to confess them. This is a promise that we are openly not worthy of but our Lord still decides to make with us, knowing what He would undergo on our behalf. It seems as if Christ were a bad businessman, He promises so much in exchange for very little, despite what we have done in the past. One missed credit card payment and our credit scores dip, and we stop being approved for other cards, a cycle known to most college students. Our Lord sees our mistakes, sees that we have made them in the past, and sees that we will continue to make them but still offers us the best deal in the world. Our Lord’s forgiveness is the manifestation and the outpouring of His love for us. 

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). One of the most beautiful and comforting promises and one of the most well-known, but the one that seems to be the most misunderstood. The promise is that through our love for God, everything will be okay. St. Cyril explains that “To be called according to God’s purpose is to be called according to the will.” Thus, in walking in the will of God, everything will turn out for the best which, at first, kind of seems obvious, since it is God’s will, but for some reason, it seems too good to be true. St. John Chrysostom tackles this idea in a book called “On the Providence of God”. St. John writes this letter in what is arguably the most perilous and worst time of his life, as he had been falsely accused and exiled, left to die. But no one would think to consider this when reading, as it seems to be his most encouraging work. He gives examples of Bible characters who in their present situation would have lost hope in God, but all their tribulations worked out for good. His prime example was Joseph, who after being sold, betrayed, and left to be a slave, did not give in to sin, and this led to him being second in Potiphar’s house and saving his family from famine. He gives other examples of those whose life did not work out for good, at least in this world, but we know them to be great saints in heaven, and a great example of this was his own life, as he died after being moved to a worse location for exile and died on the way. However, St. John still saw the goodness of God in death, as he describes death as “as an exceptional teacher of virtue: it moderates one’s thinking, bridles the passions of the soul, calms the waves, and produces stillness.”  His famous last words were “Glory be to God in ALL things” as St. John firmly believed that his life would work out for the good, the good that is eternal life which is the chief promise that our Lord has promised to those who love Him. So that after all the affliction, the tribulation, and falling into sin, He still comforts, rewards, and forgives our sins so that we may enjoy eternal life.

 

  1. In verses such as Hebrew 4:12 Corinthians 1:20 Titus 1:2 James 1:12

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