READ: Proverbs 22, Luke 10, Revelation 2
THE PRINCIPLE OF PROMISE
Much hurt and harm occurs to the Christian spirit when we mistake the principles of God for His guaranteed promises. Principles balance combined truths. The promises of God have to be interpreted collectively, for an isolated promise that is claimed in ignorance or avoidance of other promises inevitably is distorted and leads to great harm. God promises to be merciful and God promises to judge the wicked with wrath. The principle is that there is forgiveness for those who repent. God promises to bless His people and God promises that His people will suffer. The principle is that God brings blessing through suffering. God promises His eternal presence to those who obey and His eternal absence to those who rebel. The principle is that both heaven and hell are promises of God.
Train up a Child. Proverbs 22:6 presents the principle: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” When this verse is considered an unconditional guarantee, it leads to great pain for many godly parents have lost wayward children, children who never repented and died in their sins. Often godly parents will have some children who end up with their promised heaven, and others with their promised hell. The principle is that if we train our children in godliness, then they will have every opportunity to walk with Jesus both now and eternally. The principle includes the possibility that our children will choose to rebel, choose to walk away from the Lord’s protection. The promise to parents is that if they do what is right, God bears the responsibility and the burden for what happens to their children.
Nothing shall hurt you. Luke 10:19 presents another oft misunderstood principle: “I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” This verse is not a guarantee of immunity. The principle is that we are invulnerable to the attacks of the enemy on our soul forever (if we stay under God’s authority) and that we are invulnerable to attacks on our body, until God’s appointed time of suffering. Millions of Christians throughout history have been painfully hurt by the attacks of the enemy. Christians today face unimaginable emotional and physical pain. Revelation 2:10 reminds us that the crown of life results from a faithful, painful death that has endured great suffering. Jesus is not promising that Christians will never be hurt; Jesus is promising that we will only be hurt if (when) He allows it and that there will be purpose in our bruising. The principle is that Jesus has all authority and nothing is allowed to happen to us outside of His will. We can live in the Arab World among insurrection and violence, assassinations and car bombings, and walk the streets confident and fearless–because we are immune to it all until it is time to suffer and hurt for Jesus’ sake.