About a year ago I found a research paper that detailed over 200 promises that Jesus made about this life and our life to come. It was a carefully compiled list of promises that were categorized into the following classifications: 1) Promises Jesus made regarding the Future when He returns in glory; 2) Promises relating to His follower's lives in the Present; 3) the Unconditional Promises based only on faith in Jesus; 4) the Conditional Promises bases on conditions such as obedience, prayer, and humility; 5) the General Promises that are made to all who believe them and fulfill their conditions; and lastly 6) the Promises that were made to particular Individuals or Groups. The researchers poured over the four Gospels, listing every promise made, and omitting none. As you can imagine, it is an exhaustive and comprehensive list.
For instance, in John 4:14, we find a General promise that is for the Present and carries with it a condition ... whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. That is a promise that belongs to every Believer [in every age], with the condition that one partakes of the Living Water offered by Jesus. Then there is the promise found in John 10:9-11, I am the Gateway. To enter through me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction. A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow! I am the Good Shepherd who lays down my life as a sacrifice for the sheep. This is also a promise for the present; for us Believers -- the abundance of this promise is available to all who have faith in Jesus as their Savior; their Deliverer.
I could go on and list the more than 200 promises that are ours in Jesus, but you can study them yourselves by following this link. The point I want to make is how we are to consider these promises in the light that we still have need of Deliverance after coming to faith in Jesus; and if these promises are true, why is there the continual reality of spiritual warfare? These are questions that I think every Christian grapples with. We are told that we are seen as righteous in the eyes of the Father; not to argue or complain so that we "may become blameless and pure". In fact, Paul tells us in Colossians 1:21-23, Once you were alienated from God and were hostile in your minds because of your evil deeds. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence— if
indeed you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from
the hope of the gospel you heard, which has been proclaimed in all
creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.…
Did you catch the emphasis I made in bold? Christ's death on the Cross accomplished what God planned. It reconciled us to Him and we are seen as holy and blameless and clean and righteous ... IF we are able to hold firm to what Jesus said about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and avoid the attempts of the devil to steal, slaughter and destroy our hope. But how many of us can say we do not lose hope at times when we suffer the slings and arrows of those fiery darts our Enemy is so good at launching right into our minds and hearts? Are we free of doubt and fear and self-rejection and anger and bitterness and unforgiveness? Can we truly say we are satisfied on every level with our life and walk in Truth and Spirit, filled to overflowing with the abundance of life that Jesus died to give us? If you're like me, I have moments when I experience that abundant life in its fullness. And I truly try to keep my mind renewed and joined to the mind of Christ; as well as abiding in Him [living my life in union with Him]. But the truth is, I am behind enemy lines here on earth and I am on a journey of spiritual maturity until the day I am face-to-face with my Deliverer.
The truth is, it is a supernatural transformation that takes place in us to grow us into the image of Christ. It is also true that we will face trials after coming to faith in Jesus. This does not negate the promises of Jesus. Instead it allows us to experience the Grace of God, which is more than unmerited favor, but is the power of the Holy Spirit in us to help us get through and endure those trials. And from that power of God's Grace in those circumstances, we are being trained up to experience the fruit of the Spirit's presence in those trials: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control/discipline.
It is a reality of the Believer's life that we receive Jesus's promises of eternal life, inheritance and rewards, forgiveness of sins; power and authority; bread of life and living water; rest; provision; words and wisdom; justice; a place He has prepared for us; and so much more. But it is also a reality that we are likely to experience intense struggles; fiery darts of anger, lust, or rejection; physical illnesses or infirmities; ridicule and rejection from both inside and outside the Body of Christ; persecution and oppression because of our faith; worry and stress from worldly responsibilities; inner wounds and disappointments; and pressure to give in to the world's temptations and sins. It is at these times that the Believer must recognize that while his or her salvation is never at stake, unless they have achieved the epitome of spiritual maturity, it is likely that they will continue to be engaged in spiritual warfare for the remainder of their life.
Jesus made that clear [at least to me] when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Remember Jesus fasted for the 40 days He was in the wilderness, so the devil knew He was hungry, and tempted Him to turn the stones into bread. But Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 and said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”. This is one of the most effective tools of spiritual warfare that I try to encourage all who come to Mark and me for Inner Healing and Deliverance ... Renounce the lie spoken by the devil and proclaim the truth of the Word of God. But I love the fact that Jesus uses "bread" as a symbol of that full life He promises. In John 6:33, He says, For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. For me, that fullness of life is real when I proclaim Psalm 18:2: "The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; He is my strength; God in whom I trust. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my
place of safety."
The truth is that Jesus delivers me daily as I turn to Him in those moments when my spirit or body or mind are under attack. You see, I get it that I am a threat to the Enemy who doesn't want me sharing the good news of how Jesus has saved me, delivered me, and is providing me with both physical and spiritual "bread" -- that full life that can only be found in partnership with Him and Holy Spirit. That is why I believe He tells us to pray, Give us this day our daily bread. He's inviting us to be in union with Him; to allow Him to empower us to defeat the works of the devil and to do the things He did -- all the while offering Himself as our Deliverer and Savior.
That's why I believe it is important, as we disciple Believers and equip the saints, to make it clear that Scripture never promises a trouble-free life in Christ -- not in this world, at least. What we are given are promises of hope and forgiveness and power and authority and answered prayer in this day, with a future that offers eternal life and rewards/inheritance and a place in God's Kingdom that will never end. But we are also told we will be Overcomers and Conquerors in this life. If Jesus has paid the price for our sins (which He most certainly has), and you interpret that to mean "no more sorrow, no more pain" in this life, then why would Jesus tell us in John 16:33, In the world you will have tribulation? I submit to you that Scripture gives us the answer ... When we are born again, Christ lives in us. And while He tells us we will have tribulation, He also tells us to take heart because He has overcome the world. Furthermore, the Bible tells us "everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith".
So, here's the bottom line.... our faith in Jesus gives us hope in the promises of God for this present life and our ability to endure the struggles and trials and tribulation while we are in the world. It is a fact that there is opposition in this world to the Light of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. For those of us who represent God's Kingdom on earth, we can expect resistance as we go forth in this hostile environment. But we are assured that we will be conquerors and overcome the evil strategies and power of the spirit forces of wickedness that come against us. And how do we do that? By partnering with Jesus and the Holy Spirit [whose powers are in us] to break the strongholds of bondage coming against us -- and that is called spiritual warfare.
I will close by saying that Hope and War may seem like polar opposites in a relationship with our Savior/Deliverer. But we find the reality of both as we derive our hope from our faith [Christ in us], and the ability to endure and overcome anything that comes against us by the same means -- Christ in us empowers us to be victorious over our Enemy. Though there be times of trouble in this world, we can celebrate the hope of a bright and eternal future.
Psalm 50:15 And call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.