God has given us many, many promises in His Word: promises to bless1, to heal2, free us from oppressors3, provide our every need4 and even fulfil our dreams5.
These promises are like delightful fruit on a magnificent tree. Each fruit—like the promise it represents—has a different appearance and speaks to our eyes and desires of a variety of fulfilled longings. We look at these fruit and admire them, their subtle colours, their differing textures, even the sweet and distinct aromas that permeate the atmosphere around them—like spices telling the world of untold riches.
They truly are a sight to behold and this is a tree to spend many hours under. We talk to others about how wonderful and desirable they are and what they would taste like, and the fulfilment they can bring.
Yet sadly, few actually pick the fruit and even fewer go so far as to eat it for themselves. How tragic! Here is this tree literally laden with ripe, exquisite and heavenly tasting fruit, begging to be freely taken for there is a limitless supply, yet few are eager to grasp one or more delicacies and hungrily consume them.
In the same manner, few actually take God’s rich promises and claim them for themselves and their situation. We look to our own belongings, our assets, our credit rating, our welfare system, our medical profession, our superannuation, our secure job and income, our friends, our insurance and think we are rich (or at least comfortable) and full (enough) and have enough to get by6. Some may occasionally recite a promise (pick the fruit) but really it’s just a comfort thing and most don’t rely on it to provide the outcome it speaks of.
Yet each promise of God is literally waiting for us to draw it from the spiritual world into the physical and bring it into reality7. God gave us these promises to achieve His purposes8. Nothing is impossible for our God9 and He went out of His way to ensure the Scriptures are laden with promises just waiting for us to apply them to ourselves and our life experiences.
Not sure how to do that?
Maybe you have claimed a promise in the past that was not fulfilled, and you don’t dare risk being disappointed again and undermining what little faith you have. Or perhaps deep down you simply don’t believe your prayer will be answered. You look at His promises as being comforting and for someone else, not for you, not to be really depended on.
You’re not alone in this: the disciples struggled with this same challenge on many occasions10, even in the presence of the Saviour of the world.
And so, without meaning to, we are treating God as a liar.11
Which brings us to those two words that hold the key to our actions, that determine if we will claim God’s promises or leave them alone—faith and belief. These two factors are fundamental to our Christian journey. Not only for claiming God’s promises but also as to whether we will ultimately enter heaven.12
Hebrews 11:6 lays it out plainly: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to Him must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.”
Here’s a quick overview of how that works:
Firstly, we must believe that God is real, every bit as real as the fingers on your hand and the nose on your face.
Secondly, we must understand that this God whom we know exists, has at His core a heart of giving—not taking, not punishing, not putting down, not destroying.
No! His character is one of imparting every possible good gift13 to build us up and help us reach our potential in this life and the life to come.
Now, once you have that knowledge as the foundation of your belief in God, the third and natural outcome is faith—which is essentially trust in God, which He again gives to us as a gift.14
Go back and read Hebrews 11:6.
What a powerful verse! It gives us the steps to claiming all of God’s promises for ourselves and others. [pullquote]
Not just smelling them. Not just telling others how good they could be but eagerly grasping and consuming them, bringing them from the spiritual world into the physical and into our reality, actually experiencing them in our lives now.
But a word of caution. It’s no coincidence that the devil’s most consistent and virulent attacks are against the first two foundation stones—God’s reality and His character.
The devil knows the Bible, and he knows what it says in James 1:6-8: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in his ways.”
Being “brought up” in the Church is no guarantee that you are immune to these attacks. As a lifelong member of the Church, these foundations used to be shaky for me; I thought God existed, but only so far as it was part of my self-identity, and not at the level of absolute rock solid belief. And even if He did exist, I was not about to trust my life completely to Him. Just look at what happens to missionaries and others who fully put their trust in Him—loss of belongings, ill-health, persecution and even death of loved ones. Not for me! It seemed far safer to keep Him at a distance and continue along my Christian journey at the superficial level.
But God had other ideas and was saying to me, either get on board 110 per cent or get out!
Not willing to throw away 40-plus years of Christian life, I went on a personal journey to prove the exact two foundations of belief and trust listed earlier in this article. Perhaps this story should be the subject of another article. Let me just say that I am so glad I did, because our God is real and He is truly the most loving and awesome Being in heaven and earth, and the fruit of His promises is authentic!
If the devil has attacked you and your faith is shallow and you fear you are double-minded you are not alone. God understands and longs for you to truly know Him.
Prayerfully go back to the two foundations of belief and trust and ask God to show you where your belief and understanding is amiss, and then seek answers in His Word and other sources that help dispel the doubt.
He will help you in this15 for He yearns for you to taste His fruit, to step into His reality, a reality where absolutely nothing is impossible.16
Trevor Schofield attends Lakeside Church (NSW) and runs a business with his wife Sandy.