Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
We can find many promises God has made to us in His Word. For instance, He promises to care for us faithfully and to never forsake us. But in 2 Peter 1:4, some of His promises are strikingly described as precious and exceedingly great.
Are these precious and exceedingly great promises related to material things like a better car, a life without financial challenges, or a trouble-free family life with the best spouse and children? To answer this question, let’s first see why God gave these extraordinary promises to us. This will help us see what makes them so precious and exceedingly great.
The purpose of God’s promises
Let’s read 2 Peter 1:4-5:
“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us all things which relate to life and godliness, through the full knowledge of Him who has called us by His own grace and virtue, through which He has granted to us precious and exceedingly great promises that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world by lust.”
The context of these verses tells us that the precious and exceedingly great promises Peter speaks of aren’t related to prosperity or a trouble-free life. And they aren’t for something in the far-off future, nor are they for after we die. They’re related to something profound that we can enjoy here and now.
The verses tell us God gave us such promises so that through them we can partake of the divine nature of God today. No wonder Peter calls them precious and exceedingly great. The fact that we human beings can partake of the divine nature of God is tremendous!
To partake of something means to take it into us and experience it. Just as we partake of food daily, we can partake of God’s divine nature through His precious and exceedingly great promises. As we partake of His nature, something happens in us: we begin to express God.
To illustrate, let’s say a person eats a lot of carrots. Eating so many carrots can eventually cause his skin to develop an orange tint, expressing the carrots he’s become constituted with. In the same way, the more we partake of God’s divine nature, the more we become constituted with and express His nature.
Knowing we can partake of God’s nature will truly revolutionize our Christian life. Expressing God isn’t the result of our self-effort or outward behavior, but of partaking of His divine nature. So as we partake of Him, God works out His purpose to join Himself to us and mingle with us so we become His expression for His glory.
Note 2 of verse 2 Peter 1:4 in the New Testament Recovery Version says:
“Through and on the basis of the Lord’s glory and virtue, by and to which we have been called, He has given us His precious and exceedingly great promises, such as in Matt. 28:20; John 6:57; 7:38-39; 10:28-29; 14:19-20, 23; 15:5; 16:13-15. All these promises are being carried out in His believers by His life-power as the excellent virtue, unto His glory.”
Now, let’s take a look at just the first four passages listed in this note to get a taste of these promises.
1. Matthew 28:20—“Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you all the days until the consummation of the age.”
Note 2 on with you says,
“The heavenly King is Emmanuel, God with us (1:23). Here He promised that in His resurrection He will be with us all the days, with all authority, until the consummation of the age, that is, until the end of this age. Hence, wherever we are gathered into His name, He is in our midst (18:20).”
At the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, an angel told Joseph before the Lord’s birth that Jesus would be called Emmanuel, which means God with us. Matthew ends with the resurrected Lord commissioning His disciples to go forth with the gospel. Then the Lord Jesus’ final word in Matthew is His promise to be with us always. As we journey through life, He is with us—not occasionally, but all the time, every day. He was with us yesterday, He’s with us today, and He’ll be with us tomorrow, until the end of this age. Whatever our circumstances may be, we can enjoy His presence every day. How encouraging is this precious promise from the Lord!
2. John 6:57—“As the living Father has sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.”
In John 6, the Lord Jesus presents Himself as the living bread from heaven for us to eat. Note 1 on verse 57 explains what eats Me means:
“To eat is to take food into us that it may be assimilated organically into our body. Hence, to eat the Lord Jesus is to receive Him into us that He may be assimilated by the regenerated new man in the way of life. Then we live by Him whom we have received. It is by this that He, the resurrected One, lives in us (14:19-20).”
We live physically by the food we eat. In the same way, we live spiritually by eating Jesus as our food in the Word of God. According to this promise in John 6, if we eat the Lord Jesus in His Word, we’ll live by Him and He’ll be lived out of us. This is how we live the Christian life; it’s not by striving with our own energy but by taking in the nourishing supply of Christ as the bread of life.
3. John 7:38-39—“He who believes into Me, as the Scriptures said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. But this He said concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed into Him were about to receive; for the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
First Corinthians 15:45 tells us that in resurrection, the Lord Jesus became the life-giving Spirit. As the Spirit, He’s the living water for us to drink. The Lord promised us that when we come to Him, believe in Him, and drink Him, our inner thirst will be quenched. Anytime, anywhere, we can drink the Spirit by turning to our spirit, where He is. When we drink the Spirit, He satisfies us with Himself as the living water.
The Lord also promises that when we drink of the Spirit, rivers of living water will flow to others. What does this mean? Note 2 of verse 38 explains:
“The rivers of living water are the many flows of the different aspects of life (cf. Rom. 15:30; 1 Thes. 2:13; Gal. 5:22-23), originating from the one unique river of water of life (Rev. 22:1), which is God’s Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2).”
When we drink the Spirit, the unique river, our need is met. Then as we enjoy God this way, spontaneously out of our being will flow love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, and so many more aspects of God’s life to meet the needs of those around us.
4. John 10:28-29—“And I give to them eternal life, and they shall by no means perish forever, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
Note 1 on eternal life and hand helps us appreciate the Lord’s promise here:
“Eternal life (see note 151in ch. 3) is for the believers’ living. The Father’s hand, by which He chooses in His love according to His purpose (17:23; 6:38-39), and the Son’s hand, by which He saves by His grace for the fulfillment of the Father’s purpose (1:14; 6:37), both of which have the keeping power, are for the believers’ protection. Eternal life will never run out, and the hands of the Father and the Son will never fail. Hence, the believers are eternally secure and will never perish.”
The Lord gives us eternal life for our living today. We have the eternal life, which will never run out, and we’re kept safe in both the Father’s hand and the Son’s hand. We are eternally secure. We’re safe in the hands of the Father and the Son forever! Since we’re so secure in Him, we can partake of His eternal life every day without doubt or fear.
Thank God for granting us these precious and exceedingly great promises! We encourage you to order your free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version so you can read the notes for the rest of the promises listed in note 2 on 2 Peter 1:4, especially those in John 14, a deep chapter in the New Testament.
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