Standing on the Promises

“Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:17–20

The above text is like richly laden ore from which precious gems of truth can be obtained if, as we are counseled, we “sink the shaft deep, and bring up the hidden treasures” (Our High Calling, 115).

The first treasure nugget is contained in God’s determination “to show more abundantly.” Clearly His word reveals His unfathomable love for us, even with a cursory reading, but in order to “more abundantly” understand that love, we must search diligently to understand that He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

The second nugget is found in the next phrase: “to the heirs of promise.” Who are those heirs? Paul makes that clear in his letter to the Galatians. He states it so clearly that it is too plain to be misunderstood. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26–29).

The next gem is contained in the “the immutability of His counsel.” Psalm 89:34 speaks of the immutability of God’s word: “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.” How comforting it is to know that “all His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever” (Psalm 111:7, 8). Thankfully He is not like the unpredictable waffler who condemns an act today that was acceptable yesterday. By study of God’s word, we can know where we stand with Him and be assured that His standard will not change—ever.

He assures us of that with an oath. “Because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,” saying, “ ‘By Myself I have sworn’ ” (Hebrews 6:13, Genesis 22:16).

Then we come to the next gem: the two immutable things that confirm His promises. If we cannot determine from these texts what those are, we can turn to Inspiration for the answer.

“Another compact—called in Scripture the ‘old’ covenant—was formed between God and Israel at Sinai, and was then ratified by the blood of a sacrifice. The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the ‘second,’ or ‘new,’ covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant. That the new covenant was valid in the days of Abraham is evident from the fact that it was then confirmed both by the promise and by the oath of God—the ‘two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie’ (Hebrews 6:18).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 371.

Why is it impossible for God to lie? We have already read the inspired promise of Psalm 111:7, 8, but for confirmation, let’s read the inspired words of a prophet who couldn’t lie, even though he wanted to. They were spoken by Balaam and recorded in Numbers 23:19. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

It is important to realize that whatever God speaks is—simply and unavoidably is: “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:9). For that reason, if for no other, we can rely on the promises of His word.

“When the afflicted ones came to Christ, He beheld not only those who asked for help, but all who throughout the ages should come to Him in like need and with like faith. When He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee’ (Matthew 9:2) …, He spoke to other afflicted, sin-burdened ones who should seek His help. So with all the promises of God’s word. In them He is speaking to us individually, speaking as directly as if we could listen to His voice. It is in these promises that Christ communicates to us His grace and power. They are leaves from that tree which is ‘for the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2). Received, assimilated, they are to be the strength of the character, the inspiration and sustenance of the life. Nothing else can have such healing power.

“God loves His creatures with a love that is both tender and strong. He has established the laws of nature, but His laws are not arbitrary exactions. Every ‘thou shalt not,’ whether in physical or moral law, contains or implies a promise. If it is obeyed, blessings will attend our steps; if it is disobeyed, the result is danger and unhappiness. The laws of God are designed to bring His people closer to Himself. He will save them from the evil and lead them to the good if they will be led, but force them He never will.” God’s Amazing Grace, 266.

This passage brings to mind another wonderful promise. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses has recounted the giving of the law and repeats the commandments God had given the people through him on the mountain. Then he begins the next chapter with this wonderful promise:

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged …” (Deuteronomy 6:1, 2). [Emphasis added.]

Then Moses concludes a brief recounting of their experience with the reason for claiming the promises that accrue through obedience to His word:

“And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:24, 25). [Emphasis added.]

Let us pray that we might not be like the children of Israel, who repeatedly failed to walk by sight, who repeatedly failed to trust the promises of God.

“We do not realize how many of us walk by sight and not by faith. We believe the things that are seen, but do not appreciate the precious promises given us in His word. And yet we cannot dishonor God more decidedly than by showing that we distrust what He says.” Our High Calling, 85.

As Inspiration tells us, we must “search for the precious promises of God. If Satan thrusts threatenings before your mind, turn from them and cling to the promises, and let your soul be comforted by their brightness. The cloud is dark in itself, but when filled with the light it is turned to the brightness of gold, for the glory of God is upon it.” That I May Know Him, 241.

The most precious of all promises, of course, is John 3:16, the first Scripture that we memorized as children. Couple that uplifting promise with the one in Philippians 1:6, and the Christian has absolutely no reason to question his salvation.

There was a time when even those closest to Him doubted His word. It is recorded in Matthew 19:23–26. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ”

This same promise is recorded in Mark 9. When Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, He found a large group of people gathered around a demon-possessed man. The disciples had attempted to cast the demon out, with no success. Then the father of the boy appealed to Christ in desperate, pleading tones: “If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22).

What did Jesus answer? “Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes’ ” (verse 23).

That is the challenge we face today: to understand and believe the possibilities that lie before us if we claim the promises in God’s word and act on those promises as if our lives depended on them, because, in fact, they do.

All quotes NKJV unless otherwise noted.

John Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. After retiring as chief financial officer for the Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon, Arizona, he moved to Wichita, Kansas, to join the Steps team. He may be contacted by email at: