Don’t Compromise That Promise!

I had the privilege of preaching the word of God at Rustburg Correctional Facility today, where I delivered a message about what is arguably the greatest promise God has ever made to humankind. I sought to remind the inmates of God’s incredible love displayed in it, and to “not compromise that promise”.

You might wonder just what that promise is. Well, it starts and ends at the cross. I believe that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ speaks volumes to us about how we are to live… yes, live! Jesus’ entire life was not only the required sacrifice to save us from our sins, but it was also the prime example of what it means to live in relation to the God of heaven. Everything from his reliance on the Father for food, clothing, shelter, and miracles, to his continual conversations with the Father about all that pertained to his life and purpose for being born were examples for us.

And there were only a couple of times in Scripture where we can see that there is an apparent dis-connect between God the Father and Christ the Son. And I emphasis “apparent”, because of course we know that there was not and never will be a complete disconnection between the Father and the Son. But by God’s design, there appeared to be one for a very, very good reason.

All throughout Jesus’ ministry, we read of him praying to the Father, and even on several occasions we hear the Father speak of Jesus from Heaven (e.g., at his baptism (Matt. 3:17), and the mount of transfiguration, (Matt. 17:5)). But remember when Jesus prayed three times in the garden of Gethsemane that if it was possible that the Father would let the cup of crucifixion pass from him (Matt. 26:39-44)? Though Christ prayed three times, heaven remained silent. And then there came the time when after suffering false accusation and arrest, being kept up and questioned all night, and mocked and beaten the next day, that he was then nailed to a cross and lifted up for all to see.

Surely there was pandemonium as the people crowded Golgotha that afternoon. Surely there were cries from the devastated Mary, Jesus mother and many of the other women. Yet all of the confusion and tumult must have muted when Jesus began to cry out, “Eli, Eli, Lema sabachthani?”, which meant, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). In that simple question there exists volumes of understanding of what life in Christ is about. And one of the things that Jesus’ words do there is contrast for us the preciousness of what I like to refer to as the greatest promise God ever made to humankind. And if we compromise that greatest promise, we will begin to live lives that serve to discredit the validity of all the other promises of God; and surely, no Christian wants to be guilty of that.

So what is this “greatest” of all promises? As I said before, it starts at the cross. How so? Well, Jesus cried out to God asking why he was forsaken by Him. And, of course, heaven was silent, right? I personally think that God did not respond to Christ’s question for at least two reasons: “leaving” and “forsaking”. First of all, I believe God did not respond because He didn’t have to, since the question that was asked was not a completely valid one. God does not have to defend Himself at all, much less about something He can never truly be guilty of. God the Father and God the Son are eternally inseparable, and yet, Jesus speaks as if they have been separated.

I know the feeling though, and many of you do too. I can remember when I was a child. I never attended pre-school; I didn’t start school until I was old enough for kindergarten. Up until that time, I spent every day of my life with my mother or some other close family member. So you can probably guess what happened on my first day when I was left alone at school by my mom. Yep! I cried “for about the space of four or five hours”, which was about how long we went to school each day in kindergarten! I don’t remember if I cried again the next day, but I can remember the feeling down in my bones of being abandoned that first day. But is that what actually happened? Of course that was not what happened. But can you imagine the perfect relationship the Father and the Son had from eternity, being so abruptly and bitterly interrupted by thirty-three-and-a-half years of persecution that culminated in three-and-a-half hours of unspeakable torture on a cross? Surely, Jesus was speaking from his completely human perspective when he cried out to God that way. Though he was eternally God the Son, he was also a perfectly sinless human being crying out from every fiber within to his God, telling Him (and us) exactly what he was feeling. He had to be feeling like God was nowhere around. But was He still there? Of course He was still there.

A second reason I believe heaven was silent was to highlight Christ’s feeling of forsakenness. What does it mean to be forsaken, and is it the same as being left or abandoned? I don’t think so. I believe you can forsake someone while you remain in their very presence every day of their lives. That is what children who are raised in severely dysfunctional homes endure until they are grown enough and able to leave and make a life for themselves. So when it comes to being forsaken, I believe that Christ’s cry was unanswered because God wanted us to see to what measures He would go in order to show us that He would never leave nor would he ever forsake us. And that is the greatest promise God has ever made to humankind. “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you'” (Heb. 13:5).

God the Father appeared to have forsaken His only begotten Son Jesus on the cross so that He would be able to make us a promise signed in the sinless blood of His only begotten Son that He will never depart from us, nor would He ever neglect us. And Christ’s cross serves to teach us the lesson that there will be times in our lives that heaven will be silent at our cries; it will literally seem like God is completely neglecting us. But Jesus told us clearly that if we would follow him, we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses and do so daily (Luke 9:23). And let us remember that His promise to never leave us is founded upon His Omnipresence–He is always with Believers, no matter where we are! And let us also never forget that His promise to never forsake us is backed up by His Omnipotence and Omniscience–He is powerful enough and smart enough to cause all things, triumphant or tragic, to work together for good to us who love Him and are the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28)!

So, every other promise of God in Christ Jesus essentially hinges upon this great promise of Hebrews 13:5 because it is the only promise God makes to us that all of His other promises could not be possible without. And if we can really get a good and continual heart-hold of this promise, we will begin to learn like the apostle Paul did, to be content in whatsoever state or condition we find ourselves (Phil. 4:11); we will experience the life of great gain, that abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10) which also comes with such contentment (1 Tim. 6:6). May we never compromise the greatest of all promises by living as if God is nowhere around us or as if He could care less about us. Others who need to believe in our God are all around, and they are watching. If He is not with us now, then He never was. But if you are a true Believer, just know, and show that you know, that He is always there and He truly cares. Don’t compromise that PROMISE!

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  1. #1 by writinggomer on October 21, 2012 - 17:10

    Great article Keith, I especially liked this statement: “If He is not with us now, then He never was. But if you are a true Believer, just know, and show that you know, that He is always there and He truly cares.”
    He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life…so many in today’s Church do not understand this properly. Thanks for a great article.


  2. #4 by klbellwether on October 30, 2012 - 16:30

    Hello YourJesusMind!

    A couple of years ago I taught on a series of messages about Christ and Christmas. Here is an excerpt from one of them entitled “Jesus’ Born Identity”. It would appear that “godly minds think alike” too! Great post!!

    In the blockbuster movie “The Bourne Identity”, Matt Damon’s character, Jason Bourne wakes up floating on the sea after the organization he worked for as a professional assassin left him for dead. When he comes to, he cannot remember who he is, and so begins his quest to find out. Unfortunately, to get his life back, he unwittingly seeks the help of the very organization trying to kill him. He fails to immediately see that the attacks he suffered were a part of plan to keep him from finding out who he really is. Does this scenario sound familiar? Well, let me refresh your memory. When Adam allowed sin to enter the world, we lost our true identity as we (and the world) were plunged into the depths of sin. Behind the plot to destroy us is Satan, that old serpent, with whom Eve had that fateful conversation. Since that time, all humanity has suffered an identity crisis. Because of sin, we have little to no real knowledge of who we are or should be. Yet in our attempts to find fulfillment and purpose, we naturally run to anyone and anything else but the God who created us. Because of the mystery of iniquity at work in the world at all times (2 Thess. 2:7) we must realize that this fallen world will either give us everything we want, or it will try to see us to our graves—anything but help us discover who God truly wants us to be.

    Identity is one of the key reasons why Christ was born. In Matthew chapter one, we see the genealogy of Jesus as far back as King David. It seems the purpose for this is to show the Jews that Jesus was their promised Messiah, “the offspring of David” as prophesied (e.g., Isa. 11:1; Rev. 22:16). But in Luke chapter three, we see the genealogy of Jesus going as far back as Adam and ultimately to God. It seems the purpose for this is to show that Jesus was the Savior of the entire world (e.g., 1 Jn. 4:14). And that simple four-letter word “born” is so significant because it speaks of God entering into identification with us through the same process by which we came into the world. Christ came to identify with us as a human being so that we as human beings could identify with Him as God. We can seek to define for ourselves who we are destined to be if we choose, but there is no better place to turn than to Jesus if we want to know who we really are. He is the only one with the perfect plan for your life, because He is the only one who created you. But you, me and anyone else who would know their true identity must first be “born” again, and then stay in intimate contact with the source of our new birth, nurturing and growing that precious life within by walking daily in the word and will of God like Jesus Himself did. Jason Bourne received instructions from sources that led him on many a wild goose chase! But when “the Jesus-born” receive instruction from the word of God, we are led by the Spirit of God into a fuller understanding of our true God-given identity.

  1. The BORN-IDENTITY « YourJesusMind

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