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Promises You Can Count On
12/14/2003
Scripture: Isaiah 42; 48; 49; 2 Peter 3; Jeremiah 3...
Track 50 of 52 in the Sermons from 2003 series
Running time: 29 minutes, 17 seconds.
If He kept the promise to send Jesus, He'll keep the promise to save us.



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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Sermon for Sunday, December 14, 2003
"Promises You Can Count On"
(If He kept the promise to send Jesus, He'll keep the promise to save us. )
C. Sackett

The abdomen, the chest and the brain will be ever shut from the instruments of the wise and humane surgeon. So said the Queen surgeon in 1873.

Law will be simplified over the next century. Lawyers will have diminished and their fees will have been vastly curtailed. 1893

It doesn't matter what he does, he will never amount to anything, so said Albert Einstein's teacher. 1895

It would appear that we have reached the limits of what is possible to achieve with computer technology. 1949

The Japanese won't make anything the people in the United States would ever want. 1954

Here's one of my favorites.

Nuclear powered vacuum cleaners will be reality within ten years. That was 1955

Here's another good one. Before man reaches the moon, your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail. That was the postmaster general in 1959.

1986--By the turn of the century we will live in a paperless society. Huh!

We're not really good at making those predictions, ya know. There are a lot more of those out there. Things that we said would happen that didn't or wouldn't happen that did.

I want to read for you an Old Testament text and then we'll come to the one we're going to look at in 2Peter 3 this morning.

I just want you to hear this statement that Isaiah makes to Israel in Isaiah 48.

Listen to this, O house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel--but not in truth or righteousness--you call yourselves citizens of the holy city and rely on the God of Israel--the Lord Almighty is his name; now listen carefully to verse 3 I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.

One of the arguments that Isaiah uses, particularly in Chapter 42 through 48, 49 as he is discussing this God that Israel seems to have abandoned, is that you know that I'm God because I announce things in advance. I say things before they happen. And then once I've made that announcement, they actually do happen. Unlike the other gods who make announcements, but they can't verify them, they can't produce them. The ability for God to predict the future is what marks him off as God.

There is a fundamental principal that probably becomes more real at Christmas season than any other season of the year. It sounds something like this, If God says it's going to happen, it's going to happen. In other words, with God, a promise made is a promise kept. A promise made is a promise kept.

I want you to look at 2Peter 3 because at the end of the first century, Jesus has died and risen again and we have come another 30-40-50 years down in this history of the church. He'd made this announcement, as you had seen me go, I'm going to come back. Lots of those early first century people believed that it meant within their lifetime. A lot of questions raised in the New Testament about why Jesus hadn't returned quickly. Why he didn't turn right around and come back. And there have arisen scoffers who are calling in to question the truthfulness of his words simply because he hasn't arrived yet. Listen to what it sounds like in 2Peter 3 when the apostle Peter is writing this second letter. He says,

Dear Friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this ‘coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Listen to what's happening here. Peter is encountered by men who are saying, if God is so sure of himself, why hasn't he kept his word? And the reminder is, just think about that. It was by his WORD that the world came into existence. God said, Let there be light and there was light. And that same WORD that brought water and separated it, turned it into heavens and earth and sea, that same water that he called upon to destroy the earth and, in fact, there was a flood that destroyed it. Peter says to these scoffers, if you think his word lacks power, you have a bad memory because when God makes a promise, he keeps it.

Well, it seems to me when you come to this season, this particular season of the year, that fundamental truth just becomes ever more real. A promise made is a promise kept. If God says it will happen, it will happen. In fact, God kept his promises when he sent his Son the first time. I just want to rehearse for you a handful of those promises. There are lots of them. These are just the ones that are probably the most familiar with people because of the Christmas season. For example, Micah 5, verse 2. He will be born in Bethlehem. This little burg outside the capital city. This city of bread, this place of David is going to be the birthplace of the Messiah and, in fact, in Luke 2 if you read the Christmas story, you know in verses 4, 5, and 7, it explicitly says that he was born in Bethlehem. And in fact, God used the government in order to move them to Bethlehem so that he could be born in a particular place where God had predicted he would be born.

He says in Isaiah 14. There will be a young woman who will conceive and she will give birth to a child and his name will be called Immanuel. This young virgin in Luke 1 in verses 26 and 27, 30 and 31 is identified at the birth of Jesus.

He says in Jeremiah 31:15, this horrendous story of Rachel weeping for her children.

And as you know, at the birth of Jesus, King Herod had every male child two years old and under destroyed in order to try to eradicate the birth of this new king of the Jews. And Matthew tells us that's the fulfilment of that prophesy that Rachel continues to weep for her children.

In Hosea 11:1 there is this rather unusual statement for Hosea, out of Egypt I called my Son. Most people, prior to the coming of Jesus, saw that as a reference to the Exodus calling Israel out of Egypt, which was true and yet Matthew tells us that's explicitly what God had in mind when Joseph took Jesus south to Egypt to protect him from the onslaught of Herod. And then God called him back out of Egypt.

Isaiah 40:3-5 anticipates one who will come announcing ahead of time the birth of the Savior making the way straight and Luke reminds us that John the Baptist did, in fact, come as Jesus' announcer making the pathway ready.

Isaiah 9:1-2 talks about a light that will burst forth in Galilee.

Matthew 4 identifies Galilee as the place where the ministry of Jesus was first initiated. And light comes forth in Galilee.

Well, you can multiply those over and over again. At this season of the year when you anticipate this Christmas event, one of the things that ought to happen for us as Christian people is an awareness that just simply reminds us again of the faithfulness of God and his word. He promised it and it happened. He said he would come and he came. With God, a promise made is a promise kept. If he says it will happen, it will happen.

Well, come back to Chapter 3 of 2Peter. Peter says,

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Peter wants us to recognize that God has not sent his Son back, not because he doesn't plan on doing it, not because there was something inherently bad about the plan, not that God has failed to keep his promise but because God in his intention has delayed that coming for a reason. Don't misunderstand God's patience, he says.

God doesn't count time like you and I count time. With him a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.

You know about the guy who had the conversation with God about this. How time is different. How valuable things are different. With God, a penny is like a million dollars, a million dollars is like a penny. The guy asked God if he wouldn't mind giving him just one of God's pennies. He said, sure, be back in a second. There's a reason why he hasn't come back. And you're it. Did you notice that in the text? The reason he doesn't return is because he desires to give all men an opportunity to bring their lives right in a relationship with his Son. He's waiting for us to get ourselves together and to allow God to invade us. He's waiting because there are still lost people and as long as there are lost people, God may yet delay his return. Because he desires for you and me to know him personally. He desires for your neighbor to know him. He wants to give him the opportunity to come to faith. Oh, he says, rest assured, it will happen. There will be a day when there will be no longer time, but don't count God's timing as inability. Recognize it as grace. That he's giving us just one more opportunity, because you see, God will keep his promise to send his Son. You can count on the fact, that just as Christmas marks the faithfulness of God to send him the FIRST time, you can rest just as equally assured he will send him the SECOND time.

Just look at a handful of text over here toward the end of your Bible. Revelation 1 for example. Just a few passing texts to try to encourage you in your thinking about what God has in mind for us. This particular verse, ah, Chapter 1:7 in Revelation says, Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. Every eye shall see him, it says. Be looking because every eye will one day see him come.

Or, go to Chapter 2, these letters to the early churches. Chapter 2:7 for example.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Do you hear that promise? To the one who overcomes, to the one who lasts, to the one who is faithful, there is this entrance in to the tree of life.

Come down to verse 11. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. There is absolutely nothing to fear if you are a Christian and you know the Father through his Son Jesus. He says you don't have to worry about this second death.

Come to Chapter 2, down in verse 17 To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. There is this special relationship that exists that the one who overcomes receives from God an invitation into his presence.

You come to the end of Chapter 2:26. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery'--just as I have received authority from my Father. I will give him the morning star.

Chapter 3:5. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

Chapter 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it.

Chapter 3:21 down toward the end. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Do you hear these incredible, precious promises to the one who overcomes? Just as surely as God kept his first promise, he will keep that promise to you.

1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Do ya hear the promise? When he appears, we're gonna be just like him because we're going to see him as he is.

The book of 1Thessalonians is absolutely full of the promises of his return.

1Thessalonians 1 ends with this promise. That we. . . .this comment that we should wait for his Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who rescues us from the coming wrath. The promise is, he's coming and he will rescue us.

Chapter 3 of 1Thessalonians May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with. . . . .Do you hear the promise? He's coming . . . . . .with his holy ones.

Chapter 4. The whole last half of the chapter is all about not wanting us to be ignorant like those who have--about those who fall asleep, as if we had no hope. He says in verse 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. There is this coming of the Lord in which those who have preceded us in death will meet us in the air.

I've got friends whose faces I'll be looking for. I don't know about you. I'm really anticipating the day of reunion. Not just with Jesus, but with some people I really want to see again.

Chapter 5:23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

These promises come over and over again. He will come back. He will return. And we live in that promise. If God said it, if he said it would happen, it will, in fact, happen. Because with God, a promise made is a promise kept and he will return.

Let's look at verse 11 in our text. 2Peter, Chapter 3 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!

Here was the difficult statement to make. It's not hard to say that God kept his promises when he sent his Son. It's not difficult to say that God will keep his promises to send his Son. I'm hoping that I can say with confidence, we will keep our promises to follow his Son, because that's what this text is about.

In light of his first and final coming he says to us, be faithful followers. What manor of people ought we to be in light of Christmas--that's the question. In light of his coming, how should it affect us? How should it change us?

Verse 11 is a powerful question. What ought we to be?

So here's my question this Christmas season. Why did you become a disciple in the first place? I. . .I know why God sent his Son. He sent his Son to redeem the world. I know why he's sending his Son back. He's sending his Son back to redeem the world. What I don't always know is why I responded to that message. You know, some days I think I responded to that message because I really just wanted protection from the future. That's not all bad. But is there any more to it than that? When I decided to become a disciple, was there an implicit promise that I was making to him? And I think you know the answer to that question, don't you? That in saying yes to him we implicitly make some promises to him. The promise to follow him for example. I mean, that's exactly what being a disciple is, isn't it? The promise to follow him! Did we not implicitly make the promise to obey him? To do as he said? Did we not make the promise to grow in him? To become more like him so that he would have a presence in this world between his first and final coming?

This text closes with this benediction. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When I became a disciple, I implicitly made that my promise. That I was not in this for only what I could get out, but I was in this for what I could do to be like him in this world. With God, a promise made is a promise kept. Is that true for you? Is it true that the promise you've made to him will be a promise kept? To be faithful, to grow, to follow, to honor, to obey?

The Christmas season is such an incredible reminder of God's great and precious promises. . . . . . . . . . . . . .promises are but it is also a very clear question about how certain my promises are.

We come to encourage you to grow. To grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus. To put yourself into positions where you can become evermore like Him.

I know it's Christmas and there's just a whole lot of hub-bub going on and a lot of stuff happening and for me to ask you to do anything today is probably absolutely foolish. So I'm gonna ask you anyway. After the New Year, when we get through the season, would you do at least this one thing? Would you try a discipleship group? If you're not in one, would you at least visit one, once and give it a chance to see if it fits who you are? If you've not put yourself in a bridge community, where you have a small group of faithful accountability friends, would you at least try it for a month? That's all, not commit the rest of your life to it, just for a month say, I'll give this a try and see if it'll help?? Would you just take one promise that you've made to God and make that your New Year's resolution. I may not be able to do everything I want to do, but I will give it my dead level best to keep this one promise before God.

Because with God, a promise made, is a promise kept. And I don't think we can offer him anything less in return, can we, than to keep our promises to him?

When we come to this point in the service there is an implicit promise and that promise is if you want life, he's here to give it to you. The birth of that child is the promise that you can experience new birth too. And if you've never had that experience of coming into a relationship with Christ, we'd love to have this season be that time for you.

Let's stand and sing.