Vol. 3, No. 9
Thousands of years ago, the God of heaven made three promises to a man best known as Abraham. Later, God repeated these promises to Abraham's son, Isaac; much later, God again repeated these promises to Abraham's grandson, Jacob. Two of these promises affect every living person today in a small way. However, one of those promises directly affects the salvation of everyone who ever lived, who lives now and those who will be born in the future.
God told Abraham: "And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered" (Genesis 13:16). This promise to multiply the descendants of Abraham was repeated to him in Genesis 22:17 and told to Isaac in Genesis 26:4 and Jacob in Genesis 28:14.
References to numbering Abraham's descendants (commonly called the Jews) in Scripture and observation of millions now living proves that God caused this promise to come true. This is important to us because God also caused Jesus Christ our Savior to be born as one of Abraham's descendants.
Second, God promised Abraham that he would receive a large portion of land, stretching from the Euphrates River to the River of Egypt in the desert. "In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (Genesis 15:18).
Other verses in Genesis repeat this promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God caused this promise to be completed while the Jewish king, Solomon, reigned. "And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life" (1 Kings 4:21).
Years before, the Jewish leader Joshua said generally that God had fulfilled this promise. ". . . ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof" (Joshua 23:14). The land promise is important to us because it sustained the Jews while God made them responsible for keeping the Word of God through the ages. Also, the land sustained the Jews until after the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ.
The third promise affects our salvation. God told Abraham "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:18). This promise was repeated to Isaac (Genesis 26:4) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14). Through Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham, all people have been blessed with the saving Gospel.
"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham" (Galatians 3:8-9).
When God gave the promises to Abraham, God planned to fulfill the promise of blessing through Jesus Christ. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Galatians 3:16). This he did thousands of years after the promise was made. Only the God of heaven could make a promise thousands of years before it was fulfilled. Only God can save the souls of men.
Although God has provided the spiritual blessing of salvation to all souls through Christ, only the souls who obey God will actually receive the forgiveness of sins. Jesus said: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
Dear Friend, God's spiritual promise of blessing becomes void toward us if we do not obey the Word of God. The God of heaven has done his part to fulfill that promise and each of us must now do his part. Contact the church of Christ in your community for assistance in recognizing and obeying God's plan for our redemption.
Nothing should be more obvious than that sound, developed minds are able to make choices; this is called freewill. Dear reader, you freely exercised your willpower and chose to read these words. The fact that you make many choices or decisions daily proves that you have freewill.
Mankind can and must also make religious choices; we have freewill in religion, too. However, these choices are more important than any of the choices we make every day. Choices made in religion affect one's relationship with God. Therefore, making wrong religious choices or failing to realize that God expects one to exercise freewill is very serious. Such mistakes will prevent souls from living with God in heaven forever, after this life.
Happily, our loving God recorded in the Gospel (New Testament) what choices in religion he desires us to make; God has not left us without guidance. Your friends in the churches of Christ are interested in making the correct religious choices, based on God's teaching in the Bible. May we help you learn more about God's teaching -- so you, too, can more easily make the correct religious choices?
The Bible is filled with references to freewill and religious choices mankind must make. One outstanding example is found in Joshua 24:15. There, Joshua, a famous Old Testament character, made this sober charge to the nation he was leading: ". . . choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served . . . or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." The best choice anyone can make is to serve God!