When we visit any house, we can easily identify if it is a Christian house by the beautiful promise verses that decorate the walls. Christians strongly believe in these promise verses to heal, protect and to bless them. Not only are the walls decorated with Bible promises but their calendars too contain a Bible verse for each day of the year. Some call it the “Promise for the Day”. They believe that God is going to lead them on the basis of this promise verse – something similar to people believing in daily horoscopes that come in newspapers. Churches have also started to distribute promise verses (monthly, yearly) to all their members.
Are these promises really powerful or a mere superstition?
The simplest answer is that it is neither of the above. You need to have a deeper understanding of the Word of God to answer the above question. The two Greek words that refer to the Word of God are – Logos and Rhema. Logos is the written word and Rhema is the spoken word of God that the Holy Spirit illuminates for facing a particular situation in our life.
The Bible is neither a historic document nor a set of rules and promises. The promises in the Bible come to life and become powerful only when the Holy Spirit energizes it and speaks to us personally. Only then they become the Rhema word of God and start manifesting in our life.
Can we claim promises from the Old Covenant?
We fail to understand that many of the promises in the Old Testament are conditional in nature. People enjoyed the blessings so long as they fulfilled the conditions tagged to the promises. But, when they disobeyed, they were punished. Some are tricked by the enemy to think that since Jesus died for them, they no longer have to fulfill the conditions but can enjoy the promises. This is a big lie prevalent in our Christian community. People have comfortably started to separate promises from its underlying conditions and are claiming it in Faith. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus preach such a doctrine.
The New Dispensation is unlike the old. It is based on Grace and Faith in Jesus. We receive our right standing with God only through the blood of Jesus. We become conquerors with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The focus is more on the eternal life and salvation. In the Old Testament, people sought God for material blessings (Gen 28:20). But in New Testament, it is the reverse. People gave away what they had to seek God for spiritual blessings. (Acts 2:45, 46).
Without understanding this truth, we cannot live a successful Christian life. Many have started using the Promises of God falsely in the context of Faith in God. This is nothing but Presumption that masquerades as Faith. In many churches, Promises have become more powerful than God himself. There are teachings as how to unlock the promises from Bible and how to use the correct key for the correct problem. It may all sound very spiritual but if one does not know the truth, it can easily derail him. Though all the promises are Yes and Amen in Christ (2 Cor 1:20), only the Holy Spirit can unlock the promises and dispense it according to our needs (John 16:14,15)
Some of us have fallen into the trap of praying like this – “Lord here is your Word about healing, You said it, and I believe in it and now do it for me”. Our sovereign, omnipotent God has no need to prove himself to anyone. This is clearly summarised in the following scripture found in John 5:39,40
You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the scriptures point to me.(referring to Jesus). But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
The power in the scriptures is only from Jesus acting through the Holy Spirit. Our Lord stands sentinel over his Book to show us that we can use his word in scripture with real power only as He Himself energizes it. We need the presence of Jesus more than his promises.
Holy Spirit is the dispenser of all the Promises of God
As I emphasize the power and the role of Holy Spirit in our victorious Christian living, I am not undermining the promises in the Bible. We cannot live without studying the Word of God (Logos), for that is the treasure pool out of which the Rhema is lifted. Only when we read the Word of God, can we know the God we worship. God has revealed himself through the Bible. But only the Rhema has the power thrust to cope with Satan’s onslaught on our spirits, relationships or bodies.
As Christian, our responsibility does not end in reading the promises and claiming it for ourselves or personalizing it and waiting for a miracle to happen. Miracles only happen in the presence of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the Gospel. The most important thing in Christian living is to have a personal relationship with God. God speaks to us through the scriptures, so it is very vital to read them, understand them and ask our blessed Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to us through what we read.
Recitation of Promises does not bring blessings
Whatever the promises we may have – whether in the Old Testament or in the New Testament, they are fulfilled in Jesus (2 Cor 1:20). If they have to belong to us it can be only through him. Our God is such a good God that in spite of many of our stupid and ignorant nature, he rewards us according to our faith. That does not mean that we can take any promise in the Bible and claim it for ourselves in the name of Faith. It is never Biblical.
We cannot invoke the blessings of God through our recitation of the Promises in Bible. It would be a pagan concept of prayer. Bible does not teach us some “mantras” but to wholly rely on Jesus Christ. The Bible says Satan is very cunning and when he cannot prevent us from going to Jesus he does his best to prevent us from receiving from Jesus.
Victory comes in our life by holding onto Jesus and allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. Nothing can substitute that. The Word of God is our food for our spiritual living and when we believe in them and ask our Helper (Holy Spirit) to guide us when we face problems, he will bring us the Rhema word which will help us to defeat the enemy.
Catherine Marshall (a prominent Christian writer) healing story
She had severe tuberculosis and could not move from her bed for two years. One day, she understood the truth that Jesus was still in the healing business and there was power in his Word to heal. She started to claim healing promises from Bible for herself and for the two cancer patients who were with her. But to her shock, both her friends died and she did not improve even a little. She had put all her faith on the Promise verses but it did not work for her. Finally, God made her realize that it was not the promises that can heal her but the grace of Jesus through Holy Spirit. God taught her how to use the promises from the Bible – through the power of the Holy Spirit and healed her.
This article is an extract of my understanding from the Book “Meeting God at Every Turn” by Catherine Marshall. If you can lay hand on it, kindly read it and be blessed. It changed my perspective on how to approach God and how the Holy Spirit helps us in the manifestation of God’s promises. The best advice I can give is to make Holy Spirit your best friend. He is the dispenser of all the Good things from Heaven.