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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

What Are the Promises of God?

What are the Promises of God?

Imagine stumbling over a treasure chest buried in the ground. You open it. It’s full of gold coins. Millions and millions of dollars’ worth.

That’s a perfect picture of the Bible. The Bible is like a treasure chest. But instead of gold coins, it’s full of something infinitely better — the promises of God.

But sadly, too many Christians don’t know God’s promises. It’s like God gives us a treasure chest full of gold coins – but we leave it closed. We don’t know what’s in it. We never use the coins.

But God wants us to open the treasure chest and see all the riches we have in His promises. He wants us to see the riches, trust the riches, and experience the riches of His promises.

But we can only do that if we know His promises. So – what are the promises of God?

Here are seven categories I find helpful –

HEART-SATISFACTION – God promises to satisfy me fully and forever in Jesus Christ. 

We all long for heart-satisfaction. We all crave joy, pleasure, and beauty.

But nothing else gives us the pleasure we crave. Because the pleasure we crave can only be found in God – knowing God as He is revealed in Jesus Christ.

That’s what David says in Psalm 16:11 (he’s speaking to God) –

In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

We can also see this promise in verses like Psalm 36:7-9; Psalm 63:1-2; Psalm 73:25-26; John 6:35; Philippians 3:8; 1 Peter 1:8.

But there’s a problem. Our sin has cut us off from God’s presence, and we face His wrath forever. Which is why the next promise is so precious –

FORGIVENESS – God promises to forgive me through faith in Christ so I can experience His heart-satisfying presence forever.

We have sinned and faced God’s punishment. But on the Cross Jesus was punished in our place. So when we trust Christ as Savior, Lord, and all-satisfying Treasure – everything changes:

  • God forgives all our sin — so we will not be punished by Him (1Jo 1:9; Rom 8:1).
  • God covers all our remaining sin with Jesus’ perfect righteousness, and responds to us as if we were perfectly righteous (2 Cor 5:21).
  • God gives us His Spirit by whom we experience His heart-satisfying presence (John 7:37-38).

All of this happens by faith alone in Christ alone (Eph 2:8-9).

But faith is not easy. We will be tempted to turn back to trusting other things to satisfy us. We will need to fight temptations with earnest prayer and meditation on God’s Word. So how can I be sure I will keep trusting Christ? That’s the next promise –

PERSEVERANCE – God promises to keep me strong in faith so I can experience His heart-satisfying presence forever.

How can I be sure I will not fall away from the faith and end up facing God’s judgment?

It’s because God has promised that if you are truly trusting Him now. then He will never let you fall away. You won’t be sinless. But He will keep you persevering in faith until you enter heaven.

That’s what Paul says in Philippians 1:6 –

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

 You can also see this promise in Jer 32:40; Eze 36:26-27; John 10:28-29; Jude 1:24-25.

God promises to keep us pressing on in faith. But we are not passive in the process. We must fight the fight of faith, labor in prayer and the Word, obey Christ, and love others.

So what will motivate us to do this? That’s the next promise –

REWARD – God promises to reward my life of faith with even more heart-satisfaction in Him now and forever.

God promises that, as we trust and obey Him, He will reward us with even more heart-satisfaction in Him – in this life and in the life to come.

But don’t misunderstand that word “reward.” It’s not that we deserve rewards from God. It’s that – because of Jesus’ death on the Cross — God mercifully rewards our undeserving faith and obedience with more of Himself.

So the more I trust and obey Christ now, the more joy I will have in Christ now, and forever. Here’s how Jesus puts this promise in John 14:21 –

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

You can also see this promise in Mat 5:8; Mat 25:23; John 14:23; Rom 8:13; Heb 12:14; Rev 21:6-7.

But this does not mean that the more I trust Christ, the easier my life will be. That’s the topic of the next promise —

CIRCUMSTANCES — God promises to give me the perfect combination of blessings and trials so I will have the greatest heart-satisfaction in Him.

Sometimes God blesses us — with family, friends, and deliverance from trials. His purpose in these blessings is to show us even more of His glory, so we have even more heart-satisfaction in Him. This is taught in verses like John 9:1-2; Job 42:10; and Acts 12:11.

But sometimes, in great love and wisdom, God brings us great trials and allows them to stay. He does this so that as we cling all the more closely to Him, this closeness will give us even more joy in Him than we would have had without the trials. This is illustrated in Job 1:21; 2Cor 4:16-18; 2Cor 12:9-10; 1Pe 1:6-7; 1Pet 4:14.

But what about all the needs that are ours when facing trials?  That’s the next promise –

NEEDS – God promises to provide everything else I need in such a way that I will most fully enjoy Him now and forever.

God does not promise to give everything we want. But He does promise to give everything we need, in order to be fully satisfied in Him.

This includes finances (Matt 6:33), strength (Phil 4:13), family and friends (Matt 19:6; 1Cor 12:18), and wisdom (James 1:5). He will provide these in the right amount, and at the right time, to give us the greatest joy in Him now and forever (Rom 8:35-39; Phil 4:11-12).

HEAVEN — God promises to raise me from the dead so that forever I can join all the redeemed in the heart-satisfying joy of beholding God’s glory in Christ.

Unless Christ returns first, we will all die. But because we trust Christ, the moment we die we go to be with Christ in paradise (Luke 23:43). And there we will join with all the redeemed as we wait for Christ’s final victory over sin and Satan, His return to planet earth, and the resurrection of our bodies.

Here’s how Jesus put it —

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

It’s certain. You will live forever in the ever-increasing joy of beholding Him. God promises

What this means for us

Notice that the focus of every promise is the all-satisfying joy of beholding God’s glory in Christ now and forever.

When we see this, and when we trust all that God promises to be to us in Christ, we will be transformed.

Comments?  Feedback?

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34 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Hey Steve,
    When it comes to forgiveness, I believe we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven, to say that, our sins are forgiven when we repent. No repentance, no forgiveness on God’s part towards us.

    1 John 1:8-9 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    That is a big “if” there in the middle of that verse. I believe it’s correct to say that God’s forgiveness is conditional, even in the verses you quote, they all hang on us turning away from self and turning towards God. We should freely offer forgiveness, but ultimately God is the One who makes the decision to forgive or not, based on repentance.

    God is just, either the offense will be punished on judgement day, or it has been satisfied by Christ’s work on the cross for all who believed and repented. Am I called to unconditionally forgive someone who would kill my wife and never show one bit of remorse, I don’t believe God calls us to a higher standard than he holds Himself too.

    What do you believe is a biblical stance on forgiveness to someone who shows no remorse for their sin, should we forgive them unconditionally?

    • Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

      Excuse me for interfering, but it I got caught on your question on forgiveness, Paul.

      This specific issue was uppermost in my mind for many years, because there was a person who did hurt me deeply and didn’t repent at all. Superficially speaking, as soon as I thought of those past but still painful memories, I felt grief and anger. Knowing that I should forgive, I said, “I forgive, I forgive, I forgive…” at the minimum of twenty times a year. But it didn’t work. Though I didn’t give up trying to forgive, I realized in the end that nothing changed at all. My heart was indurated.

      Yet here is the good news.
      It is entirely possible that we are hurt or we ourselves hurt another so deeply that no one can help but God alone. Jesus primarily healed my inner wounds before He gave me the will and strength to forgive. By the way, this happened more than a decade after the original experience. Finally being able to forgive means freedom, peace, joy, and an overwhelming love for the other. But all through Christ’s power – nothing on my part.

      God bless,

      Susanne

      • Steve Fuller says:

        That is a powerful story of God’s grace enabling you to forgive. Thank you so much for sharing it, Susanne.

        • Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

          Glad you liked it, Steve.

          Blessings,
          Susanne

          PS
          I try to comment in brevity,
          This fact, perhaps, you plainly see.
          But though I try my very best,
          It’s longer now, I’ll drop the rest.

  2. Paul Walton says:

    Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

    Colossians 3:13 “…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

    In each case you’ll notice the little word as. We are to forgive as God forgives or in the same manner as He forgives. Thus we must first understand how God forgives if we are to rightly forgive.

    Forgiveness is a commitment to restore broken or disrupted relationship. It is a letting go of the anger or hurt that has been caused and is a commitment to restoration. It is a commitment to no longer hold an offense and its moral liability against a person. This can only happen when one person repents and the other extends forgiveness. The ultimate aim of forgiveness is to restore relationship, but a relationship can only be restored when both parties are willing. There cannot be communion when one party is willing and the other is not. To state that there has been full forgiveness in such a case is to make a mockery of the biblical concept of forgiveness. We can only offer forgiveness, as in the same way God offers forgiveness to us, God is not a universalist who chooses to forgive all men for their offense against Him. Nor does He offer forgiveness without expectation or condition. Rather, God forgives only those who turn to Him in repentance and who put their trust in Him.

    We affirm that God’s offer of forgiveness is universal, in that He extends it to all of humanity. But the reality of forgiveness is only for those who accept the conditions of faith and repentance.

    Unforgiveness is something different, that is we are not willing to offer forgiveness because of bitterness, but only true forgiveness can be experienced when both parties understand that repentance is essential.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your good questions. Here’s some quick thoughts.

      Scriptures like Mark 11:25 make me think we are to forgive everyone no matter how they respond.

      It is true that God only savingly forgives those who repent. But Jesus says God brings rain on both the righteous and the wicked — and that’s why we should love our enemies and those who persecute us (Mat 5:44-45; Luke 6:35).

      So God has two different kinds of responses — if we are unrepentant He loves us in the sense of caring about us and giving us rain (to bring us to repentance), but if we repent then He fully reconciles to us and adopts us.

      I think that may be a model for our forgiveness. If an enemy harms me, I don’t hold it against him or wish him ill — I care about him and will seek to do him good. But I won’t be as reconciled to him as I would to someone who repents.

      I heard Piper say once that forgiveness looks different if someone has or has not repented.

      Those are my thoughts, for what they are worth. May the Lord richly bless you, brother.

      Steve

  3. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    You are both completely right, gentlemen, Steve and Paul.

    Only some of my own additional thoughts.

    (1) When Stephen was stoned, he forgave though nobody showed a sign of repentance.

    And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)

    In this particular case, a renewed relationship between Stephen and his murderers would have been a sheer impossibility.

    (2) Stephen perfectly mirrored Jesus on the cross, who was crying out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

    He loved us sinners first so that we can love Him again. Although everybody left Jesus alone when He was dying, this didn’t keep Him from loving – indeed, that is God’s love for sinners.
    It’s absolutely true that we love and forgive the more, the more He first forgave us. This was my very experience which urged me to forgive every person who ever hurt me in my life. That’s so liberating…

    To mention a biblical example for this, I’d like to compare it with the prostitute and the Pharisee. The latter only looked at outer sinfulness, and therefore she appeared to him being worse than he. But God knows our very heart – the Pharisee was actually worse than she was because of his “not yet confessed” sins of the heart. The prostitute only was able to kiss Jesus’ feet and do him good for she knew all about her sinfulness plus Jesus’ love for her.

    Grace changes everything…

  4. Paul Walton says:

    Steve,

    Here’s a hypothetical question, are we called to forgive unconditionally if our spouse was to cheat on us and wanted to return without repenting or showing any sign of sorrow or remorse then we should take them back? Or how about in the case of physical abuse, would you say a wife should unconditionally forgive her husband if he beats her, no conditions on him returning to their home? To me that would be an unbiblical understanding of forgiveness, my point is there are conditions for true forgiveness to be achieved.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Another good question, Paul.

      I think forgiveness has to do with getting rid of unrighteous anger, desire for revenge, and a passion to harm the other person. We are called to do this towards everyone, including our enemies.

      But forgiveness does not answer the question of how I should now relate to this person. That will depend on what the person has done, and whether the person has repented.

      So if someone steals my car, I believe I am called to forgive Him completely (Mark 11:25). That would mean I no longer want to get back at him, I no longer desire his harm, and I desire his well-being.

      But I believe it is possible to forgive him — and at the same time press charges against him.

      So forgiveness would *not* mean allowing a cheating unrepentant spouse to return, or having a wife allow an abusive husband to return.

      But it would mean so feeling the treasure of forgiveness I have received in Christ, that I can let go of anger and desire for revenge.

      Forgiveness focuses on my heart desire towards the other person — not on how I will relate to the person. My forgiveness (heart desire for their well-being) does not depend on their repentance — but how I relate to them does depend on their repentance.

      I hope I’m making sense. Let me know what you think.

      • Paul Walton says:

        The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as ‘to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt’. Working with this definition an unconditional forgiveness would mean we are to surrender our rights to demand punishment or restitution. If you go back to my first post and read it carefully I make the claim that Christians are not called to forgive unconditionally, because God doesn’t forgive unconditionally. We must offer forgiveness, thus we let go of resentment and anger, but we are not commanded to forgive unconditionally, and this has been my point from the beginning of this exchange. Most Christians think that they are called to forgive unconditionally because this is what they have been taught by well meaning people, but if we look at how God forgives, there is no doubt that are certain conditions to His forgiveness.

        • Steve Fuller says:

          I think I’m starting to see what you are saying, Paul. If “forgiveness” means not just a heart-change but also relating to this person as if nothing had ever happened — then that would surely require repentance and time to verify that repentance.

          I just found something helpful in Ken Sande’s book “Peacemaker.” He says that forgiveness means different things depending on the offense. If the offense is minor, then we can overlook it and forgive even if the offender doesn’t repent.

          If the offense is too serious to overlook, then we can start with an unconditional step of having an attitude of forgiveness. We seek to maintain a loving and merciful attitude toward the person — and are ready to pursue complete reconciliation if he repents (and if he doesn’t — then we don’t).

          When Jesus commands us to forgive everyone for everything (Mark 11:25) — I think He’s just talking about that unconditional step of having an attitude of forgiveness toward everyone and anyone who harms us. He’s not talking about unconditional reconciliation, which would require repentance.

          Thanks for the interaction, brother. Should we make this a topic at our Friday morning group?

          • Paul Walton says:

            Steve,
            I would like to get the other fellows ideas about forgiveness, I believe it’s worth exploring. I believe it’s possible to offer forgiveness without being resentful, even though the other party may not repent. But I believe it’s a biblical principal that there be conditions to true forgiveness, we see it in how God forgives us, He loves us but there are conditions to experience that love. If someone causes us great harm to say we unconditionally forgive them without going to them to seek reconciliation we may be harming that person spiritually.

  5. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Mt 5:38-39)

    “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:46-48)

    Admittedly, this is not a “law” we can fulfill by ourselves, but it should be our very goal to love our enemies. However, this will happen only when we have become one spirit with Christ (1 Cor 6:17). Then the following will be possible, too.

    “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Rom 12:17-18)

    “To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:20-21)

    It’s not easy to forgive if your spouse has been cheated on you, or if you have been physically or sexually abused, or even gang raped. But, Paul – it is possible because of Christ’s supernatural love and power alone.

    Blessings to you,
    Susanne

  6. Paul Walton says:

    Susanne,
    My contention is unconditional forgiveness is not want the Bible teaches us. If your daughter was being molested by a family member, an unconditional forgiveness would mean you would allow that person to be welcomed into your house unconditionally, even if they showed no remorse for their crime. The offer of forgiveness could be extended, but there would be conditions to that forgiveness before it could lead to a total reconciliation. Without both parties coming to an agreement, the forgiveness is not real, in the sense that the division stills remains.
    Peace,
    Paul

    • Joe G says:

      Paul, I think (emphasis on think) you may be getting hung up on the terms “unconditional forgiveness” and “total reconciliation”.

      The forgiveness described in Steve’s blog entry is referring to God’s total forgiveness of our sins through Jesus’ death and resurrection. On this I think we agree.

      The “unconditional forgiveness” you are describing is what I believe we are called to as Christians. Paraphrasing Steve and Susanne, it involves releasing your right to hold offense of someone else’s sin committed against us. Ultimately this act is divine in nature and frees us to love and heal, both spiritually, emotionally and if need be, physically.

      “Total reconciliation” is something different, I believe. You can have “unconditional forgiveness” and not “total reconciliation” and still live abiding in the Spirit. Especially in your example above, you can genuinely and completely forgive and not be expected to host your daughter’s offender regardless of whether or not they have repented.

      My two cents.

      • Steve Fuller says:

        Hi Joe! Thanks for stopping by — and for your comments. Your distinction between unconditional forgiveness and total reconciliation is quite helpful.

      • Paul Walton says:

        Would we say that “unconditional forgiveness” desires just penalties or waits upon the vengeance of God I don’t believe so, because many of the Psalms declare this boldly. If someone brutally murdered my family and showed no remorse I should pray for them asking God to change their heart, but I could still desire that a just penalty would be administered, and that the individual would receive a just punishment. We are told in scripture to offer forgiveness to those who cause us harm, but no where does it say to “unconditionally forgive” to forsake the carrying out of a just punishment.

        • Joe G says:

          Good Lord, Paul! Why are all these tragic things happening to your family? ;)

          I would say that “unconditional forgiveness” involves a heart that releases the murderer/abuser/cheater to God. If they repent, if they don’t… Blessed be the name of the Lord. [The internal fight of faith at that point (I would think) would be to ask for the Spirit's help to not have my heart grow hardened by anger or bitterness.]

          You can do all of the above, showing “unconditional forgiveness” (or really, just… forgiveness) and still desire for justice because either:
          a) you don’t want to be abused anymore
          b) you don’t want anyone else to be murdered
          c)you don’t want your child (or anyone else’s child) harmed
          d) all of the above

          All of the above desires for justice show love and concern for the victim(s), and can still show forgiveness (unconditional, Spirit-filled, Biblical,etc..)toward the offender.

          Again, you can show “unconditional forgiveness” and still not have “total reconciliation”. Because the former should not be dependent on the latter. Rather forgiveness is dependent on receiving a precious gift from the Father.

          • Paul Walton says:

            Joe,
            The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as ‘to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt’. Working with this definition an unconditional forgiveness would mean we are to surrender our rights to demand punishment or restitution.
            So your argument that we can still administer “unconditional forgiveness” and want justice doesn’t work with this definition my friend.
            How about Paul who prayed that God would deliver a stiff penalty to those who hindered the gospel this doesn’t look like “unconditional forgiveness” especially in view of Galatians 5:12.
            Peace,
            Paul

          • Joe G says:

            Feb 9, 5:26
            From Miriam Webster’s Dictionary:
            FORGIVE
            1 a: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for
            b : to grant relief from payment of
            2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon
            JUSTICE
            1:the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments
            b: the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action (2) : conformity to this principle or ideal
            LOVE
            unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others

            As Christians, don’t all 3 of these work together in our lives as we
            a: are sinned against
            b: seek to cease the causes of evil in the world (slavery, abuse, genocide, hunger, etc…)
            c: reflect the heart of Jesus’ love to our fellow man?

          • Paul Walton says:

            Joe,
            Does God “unconditionally forgive” unrepentant evil people? Do you think He would ask us to do something that He wouldn’t do Himself, to hold us to a higher standard than he holds Himself to? God does offer forgiveness to everyone but there are conditions to receive it right? God has given us a brain to reason with, not every offense rises to the same level of evil. If someone treats us rudely we can certainly forgive unconditionally, without regard to justice. But there are acts of evil that require justice to be administered that we should not “unconditionally forgive.”
            Peace,
            Paul

          • Joe G says:

            Good questions! I think we are arguing the same point. Kind of… Can we both agree that the phrase “unconditional forgiveness” does not appear in the Bible? The charge to forgive as God forgives us does not mean unconditional. But I think it does mean be quick to forgive. Would you agree?

            Does God “unconditionally forgive” unrepentant evil people?
            I’m going to answer NO.

            Do you think He would ask us to do something that He wouldn’t do Himself, to hold us to a higher standard than he holds Himself to?
            Respectfully, I’m not sure this question is helpful to the discussion, but I’ll go with NO. That said, His standards are very,very high. Can you have higher standards than perfection?

            God does offer forgiveness to everyone but there are conditions to receive it right?
            A qualified YES. (deserves a much longer answer than can be given here, but faith is Jesus is involved…)

            But see… God is very, very quick to forgive, correct? Would NOT forgiving a brother/enemy/abuser/murderer also help us be quick to forgive if they do repent some day? Would NOT forgiving bring more of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

            I’m enjoying this discussion Paul. Thanks for your responses.
            Joe

          • Paul Walton says:

            Joe,
            Forgiveness can be offered with conditions, such as seeking justice for the wrong that has been committed us through the legal process. Also asking God that those responsible for a crime be caught and brought to justice and that they would receive a just punishment for their crime. The conditional Forgiveness would be me trusting God to bring about justice in this matter, and that the person would be held accountable for the crimes committed. I could ask for all these things with no malice in my heart for the person, knowing God is in control of all things, and that ultimate justice will come at some point in time.
            Peace,
            Paul

          • Joe G says:

            Yes, exactly!

          • Joe G says:

            I found this article saying pretty much the same thing:

            http://marshill.com/2012/02/15/9-things-forgiveness-is-not

          • Paul Walton says:

            Joe,
            We can forgive others in the sense that we wish them no harm, but they may have to suffer the consequence for their behavior, especially if a crime has been committed. As I think about this subject even more, true forgiveness of a sin can only be executed by God Himself. So I think all we can really do is to let go of the offense after doing our part to uphold justice, and trust God to avenge the wrong done to us. I can’t actually “forgive” another’s sin, even if they come to me and ask for forgiveness, I must direct them to the One who can truly forgive.

  7. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    Thank you very much for your clarifying response, Paul!

    Now I realize that we are both talking about a horse of another color. What I meant by unconditional forgiveness was that I forgave anything happened in the past, be it abuse or rape or whatever. But I would be crazy to hug my former molesters if they hadn’t repented yet. Though I forgave unconditionally, I have to protect myself because I love myself, too. And concerning my daughter – ha (!), you can be sure that no pedophile will come too close to her because I keep on keeping a jealous watch on her (Argus-eyed).

    Greetings,
    Susanne

  8. Paul Walton says:

    Steve,
    Here’s the verses we should look at and discuss, I think they will shed some light on biblical forgiveness.

    “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matt. 18:15-17

    These verses sum up what biblical forgiveness should look like. If someone causes us harm we should go to them, plead our case to them with the desire to resolve the dispute so that true forgiveness may take place. But if they refuse, we should take along another, if they still will not listen then take the matter to the church. We have offered forgiveness, we have made an attempt to resolve the matter, our heart is in the right place, but the other party remains unrepentant, are we to believe that from the example Jesus shows us in Matthew that forgiveness is unconditional?

    The very next parable in this chapter that Jesus tells about the unforgiving servant is very interesting look at forgiveness because the servant falls on his knees, (humbles himself) pleads for patience admitting he owes the debt (confession) and desires to pay back the debt (accountability). After seeing these actions the King then forgives him of his debt. The forgiveness was not unconditional there was an important dialogue, how would the story have been told if the servant would have said to the king “I’m not going to pay you back ever, because you have much and I have nothing, I deserve to be released from paying you anything.” Do we think the outcome would have been the same?

  9. Amy says:

    I think this is a wonderful reminder of the everlasting, steadfast love of God in Christ Jesus for us. Thanks! I have struggled some in life because of hardships I had to endure earlier in life that God could only then heal later when I was out of my family of origin. Sometimes Christ heals instantly and other times healing takes time. I was out of commission for dating in my mid20s to late 30s due to this hard work. I will not seriously date an unbeliever and certainly not marry. I am now just moving beyond child-bearing years, single and without children. THe US church structure doesn’t really embrace singles very well… churches are very family-focused.

    So… these “promises” don’t seem at all like promises to me.

    “God does not promise to give everything we want. But He does promise to give everything we need to be fully satisfied in Him.

    This includes finances (Matt 6:33), strength (Phil 4:13), family and friends (Matt 19:6; 1Cor 12:18), and wisdom (James 1:5).”

    I do not see where in Scripture God actually does promise we will be married. I think the brokenness of our world has really messed up God’s design around it “not being good for man to be alone,” and indeed wanting us to be married which he considered to be “very good.” As for the Corinthians verse, it’d be great if churches could actually value ALL its members and really embrace people. Usually singles are basically excluded from couples having couples over for dinner or families doing activities together. We’re asked to serve in children’s Sunday school or other venues, but when it comes to real fellowship, it’s often lacking. Again, I don’t see friendship being a promise of God. Certainly it’d be an ideal, but honestly I have not experienced that. And, frankly as the friends that I would often listen to, counsel, help out, be in their wedding party then “married off,” well, there went the real friendship as they simply don’t invite older singles to join in the flow of their lives.

    The only promise of God that I tend to really see as a promise is Christ’s Jesus’

    Lo i am with you ALWAYS, even to the close of the age.

    and that of Paul talking about the love of Christ,

    Nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

    Otherwise, I just don’t know if your other “promises” really ring true, at least not in my life and not in the life of many other older singles that I know who have experienced exclusion by the church.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Amy,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story and your thoughts.

      I agree with you that God does not promise that we will be married.

      Maybe I could have been more clear, but that’s what I was trying to say when I wrote that “God does not promise to give everything we WANT. But He does promise to give everything we NEED TO BE FULLY SATISFIED IN HIM. This includes finances (Matt 6:33), strength (Phil 4:13), family and friends (Matt 19:6; 1Cor 12:18), and wisdom (James 1:5).”

      What I meant was that God will give whatever sort of family and friends would bring us the most joy in Him — and that might mean marriage or singleness, lots of friends or few friends.

      I hope that clarifies what I meant — and thank you for raising such a crucial question.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  10. steve says:

    great teaching

  11. ode says:

    i read this post and it really touched me, so i decided to share it with my fellow youth on youth day at my church and they really liked it as well.

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