God Swears to God [Part 1]
By — July 25, 2017
Are you ready for some good news?
The power of the Christian life isn’t found in your promises to God but in God’s promises to you!
Today’s Text: “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”” (Hebrews 6:13–14, ESV)
Remember the scene that every kid who ever hung out in a tree fort, joined a secret club or just had a best buddy has experienced?
Little Bobby: “Can I tell you something that you won’t tell anyone else?”
Little Johnny: “Yes.”
Little Bobby: “Promise?”
Little Johnny: “I promise.”
Little Bobby: “Do you swear?”
Little Johnny: “I swear.”
Little Bobby: “Do you swear to God?”
Little Johnny: “I swear to God.”
Little Bobby: “Do you swear to God, cross your heart, hope to die?”
Little Johnny: “Okay, I swear to God, cross my heart, hope to die.”
It’s comical, of course. The ascending oath scale moves from a simple “yes” or “no” to a promise. If “I promise” isn’t enough, it moves to “I swear.” If “I swear” isn’t enough then you can resort to bringing God into the swearing or, if necessary, adding mortal danger to your own life!
Unfortunately, most appeals to Christian commitment aren’t much different than ramped up oath-making. I ought to be a better husband. I’m going to be a better husband. I will be a better husband. I promise I’ll be a better husband. I swear ….
The problem, of course, is that our promises (as well-meaning as they are) hold no power whatsoever. Oaths to “try harder” to be a good Christian don’t work because oaths are just like laws – they tell you what you must do lest you suffer the consequences but they never empower. In fact, Paul tells the Romans that our sinful passions are “aroused by the law.”
It runs contrary to intuition and to most of what you’ve heard from pulpits everywhere, but the path to becoming a better Christian isn’t ramping up your vows to try harder. The true path is to revel in the finished work of Christ Jesus wherein you have been forgiven. The answer isn’t swearing to God that you’ll be better; the answer is God swearing to you through the cross of Christ. And that’s the Gospel!