We Obtain the Promises of God by Faith

Charles Spurgeon
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The promises of God are to the believer an inexhaustible mine of wealth. Happy is it for him if he knows how to search out their secret veins and enrich himself with their hid treasures. In [them] he will find all manner of restoratives and blessed elixirs; he shall find therein an ointment for every wound, a cordial for every faintness, a remedy for every disease. Blessed is he who is well skilled in heavenly pharmacy and knows how to lay hold on the healing virtues of the promises of God. The promises are to the Christian a storehouse of food.

Blessed is he who can take the five barley loaves and fishes of promise and break them till his five thousand necessities shall all be supplied and he is able to gather up baskets full of fragments. Yea, they are the jewel room in which the Christian’s crown treasures are preserved. He is already a king who has the silver key with which to unlock the strong room; he may even now grasp the scepter, wear the crown, and put upon His shoulders the imperial mantle. O how unutterably rich are the promises of our faithful, covenant-keeping God! They who have entered into rest, even they can never tell the height and depth, the length and breadth of the unsearchable riches of Christ that are stored up in the treasure house of God—the promises of the covenant of His grace.

Promises, the Law, and Faith

Furthermore, all things under the covenant of grace are by promise. The law had blessings for works. It had only curses for transgressors, since the blessings were never obtained by any who were under the law. But the covenant of grace says not, “Do this and live,” but it says, “I will,” and “you shall.” Mention anything you will that is contained in the covenant, and I will show it is by promise. Adoption? “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.” Inheritance? Then “God gave it to Abraham by promise,” and we are the “heirs of promise,” even eternal life. Even the gospel itself is in Romans 1:2 spoken of as being promised. Life eternal is described as the “promise of eternal life.” We look for the “promise of His coming,” and after that we, “according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

I would try to explain the text, understanding it in two senses. First, some reader might think it means attaining the promises in themselves. Perhaps a more thoughtful reader would perceive that it may be better understood as obtaining the fulfillment of the promises. The phrase means certainly both, but we think that the mind of the Spirit is most fully expressed by the second sense.

The promises were and are obtained by faith. Let us give you an instance: Abraham. Abraham is bidden by God to offer up his son Isaac. He was already an heir of the promises, but not as yet had they been revealed to him fully. Obedient to the divine command, he prepares to offer up his son Isaac, on whom his hope of posterity depended, counting that God was able either of stones to raise up children, or to raise up Isaac again from the dead. He unsheathes the knife to slay his son but is prevented from the consummation of the deed. God accepts his sacrifice and rewards it with a promise.

Now, it was his act of faith that, not meritoriously but of grace, obtained that noble promise. Brethren, if you would obtain a promise, your faith must do exploits. When you have made some sacrifice for God and have been willing to do God’s Word as God bids you, you shall then stand on a vantage ground from which you may reach another and a higher promise than as yet you have ever been able to grasp in the hand of your faith. The Spirit of God shall whisper into your soul some promise that shall come home with as much power to you as though an angel from heaven had spoken it to you, and you shall through one act of faith obtain the promise which before was beyond your reach.

To quote yet another instance, Joshua was about to invade the land of Canaan, and therefore before his arduous enterprise the Lord gave him a new promise. His faith led him to the brink of the Jordan, the borders of the promised land, and then and there by faith he obtained a blessed promise.

Promises Amid Trial

One more instance: God sometimes gives His people fresh promises by faith just before a trial is about to come upon them. It was so with Elijah. God said to him to go to the brook, “and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” This was at the beginning of the famine. There he abode, and God fulfilled the promise, for by faith Elijah had obtained it. Acting upon faith, still dependent upon God, he abides at Cherith, and as the result of this faith, God gives him a fresh promise, “Arise, go to Zarephath . . . I have commanded a widow woman there to provide for you.”

“The promises of God are to the believer an inexhaustible mine of wealth.”

The faith that received the first promise obtained the honor of a second. So with you and with me. If we have had a little promise, and up till now have realized it, if we have lived upon it and made it the stay and support of our souls, surely God will give us another and a greater one, and so, from promise to promise speeding our way, we shall find the promises to be rounds of the ladder Jacob saw, the top of which shall reach to heaven. Doubt and be distrustful about the promise that you have, and you cannot expect God to increase His revelation to your soul. Be afraid, stagger through unbelief at that which was laid to your heart yesterday, and you shall not have a new one tomorrow.

Promises in the Present

But, I hear someone say, “Is there such a thing as receiving promises now? They are in the Bible, and we can read them, but can they ever come to us as if they were our own?” Oh, yes, dear friends, and that is the best way God’s people get at the sweetness of them. I believe in God the Holy Ghost. I believe in His immediate operations in the soul of man. This is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and it would therefore be strange if He did not speak to us now as much as in the age of types and shadows.

Surely, I know that God the Holy Spirit has dealings with His people today as much as ever He had with the prophets of old, and there are times when He takes an old text out of the Word and rewrites it upon their souls, so that it is as really a revelation fresh from heaven as though it had never been written in that book before. [Theodore] Beza says that once when he had been long in great sorrow and deep distress, this text came with power to him: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

Personal Experiences With the Promises of God

It is not for me to speak at any length of what texts have been my own, but there have been turning points in my history in which I have had promises from God that have been to me as marked and as distinctly from heaven as if they had been spoken by seer or prophet who met me in the way. Never shall I forget one instance, which accounts for my being here at this very hour.

When I had resolved to enter college, walking across Midsummer Common, just outside of Cambridge, revolving in my mind the joys of scholarship and the hope of being something in the world, that text came to my heart, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not” [Jer. 45:5 KJV]. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” All was given up; everything was renounced. The finest prospects seemed to melt into thin air merely on the strength of that text, believing that God, even our God, would most certainly fulfill to me His promise if I could keep His precept. Now, if I had told that to another, he might have laughed, but to me it was as solemnly the Word of God as if the heavens had opened and I had seen that written out in lightning flashes or heard the thunders of God roll through the sky.

Your experience, Christian, will furnish similar instances. Though we may be sneered at as fanatical by those who do not understand spiritual impressions from the Holy Ghost, yet know we speak only of what we have tasted and handled of the good Word of God, that there is such a thing as still obtaining the promise afresh from heaven. Faith, and faith alone, can know the secret of obtaining promises.

For Further Reading:

Spurgeon on Resting in the Promises of God

by Jason K. Allen

When Spurgeon speaks, you’d be wise to listen. The great London preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon had a lot to say during his four decades...

book cover for Spurgeon on Resting in the Promises of God