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The Bible is full of promises from God. But sometimes we get discouraged because it feels like God doesn’t come through for us. Can we actually trust God to keep the promises he makes in Scripture?
God Always Keeps His Promises
We can have absolute confidence in God to do what he says he will do. This is based on his character as God.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
We can trust God to come through because God is faithful. It is contrary to his divine nature to lie or to make an empty promise. But we need to understand some important principles that govern God’s promises. If it seems like he didn’t keep his word, it may be because we have misunderstood a promise.
Some Promises Are for Specific People
Not every promise in the Bible applies to every person in the world. Some are given to particular people in a certain time and place.
1 Kings 9:5 …Then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’
This promise applies specifically to King David. As a limited promise, we cannot apply it to ourselves. Many promises in the Bible are limited in this way.
Some Promises Are Unconditional
God will fulfill these promises, no matter what. They will come to pass, without limitations.
Genesis 9:11 Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.
This promise applies to the whole world, and has no conditions that have to be fulfilled first. The Bible contains many other unconditional promises from God.
Some Promises Are Conditional
In these cases, one or more conditions must be met before the promise can be experienced by any given person.
James 4:7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
This verse promises God’s support and victory in temptation, but only as we do two things: humble ourselves, and resist the devil. These are the conditions. If you have not experienced one of God’s promises, check yourself to see whether or not you have met any conditions associated with that promise.
A Principle Is Different from a Promise
The Bible states a number of general principles that usually work in life – often in the book of Proverbs – but they are not necessarily ironclad promises from God.
Proverbs 22:6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
Some parents take this verse as an absolute promise, then feel disappointed with God if their child walks away from their faith. But this is not a promise. It is a general principle of life, and we can trust in it. The more we lead our children in the right way, the more likely they will succeed in life. But there are exceptions to any principle.
When God makes a promise, he will absolutely keep that promise – if it applies to you, and if you meet any necessary conditions. God is faithful. He will never let you down.