2011 10 23

The “I WILL” Promises

Reverend Anthony R. Locke

October 23rd, 2011  www.FirstPresTucker.org

at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker


Click HERE for the Zephaniah Sermon Series. Sermon # 14


Zephaniah 3:20              Sermon Series in Zephaniah # 14         English Standard Version

20  At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord.[1]

The Bible is filled with imperative sentences, or commands, that speak directly to what we must do. We must not lie. We must not steal. We must not kill or commit adultery.

A public speaking coach would counsel not to use negative communication. Of course, God isn’t asking us to like what He says or agree it sounds pleasant before we make a purchase.

God is Sovereign. He speaks with absolute authority and clarity when He utters His Thou Shalt commandments. We must obey or else.

God has the right to give command performance directives. He commands and we perform. Any failure to perform forfeits the benefits given to us from God.

And that’s not good news for sinners. We have no hope of earning God’s favor and blessing because we have broken God’s commands.

The Bible opens with this perspective.

In the Garden of Eden the goodness of God was only provided if they kept obeying. As soon as they stopped obeying they lost the goodness of God and they lost God’s favor.

None of us are any different. Under the Old Covenant we are all without hope.

The Old Covenant is also called the Covenant of Works which doesn’t really fit the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve never worked to get the goodness of God. They never gained God’s goodness by their good works. They didn’t even maintain God’s favor by obeying, but wow did they loose God’s favor by disobeying.

So where so does that leave all of us now?

We are all born sinners. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are not going to be able to turn over a new leaf and gain back what was lost by sin. We are held back by the cords of our own failures. We can’t save ourselves.

Yet, God still commands us to obey His performance directives. We can’t tell ourselves, well, I am so messed up, I might as well not even try.

God will supply the power to walk away from the sins that entangle us. God will provide what He demands if we live by faith.

God’s plan is called the Gospel. This is not a rehabilitation program. The Gospel is not religious therapy. It is a resurrection unto newness of life through the Suffering Messiah.

God told Adam and Eve that they would be saved through a baby who would strike down the serpent and bring salvation.

God repeated this promise to Abraham that a baby would be born through whom God would bless the whole earth.

God told King David that through his lineage a King would come who would bring the world under submission and supply the glory of the Kingdom for His people.

And Jesus Christ is that perfect Son of God who came as the Son of Man.

Jesus was born of flesh and blood, just like us and yet without sin. Jesus was not born morally disadvantaged through the sin of Adam and Eve. Jesus was virgin born and the sin of humanity didn’t transfer to His soul or person.

And while Jesus was on this Earth Jesus perfectly kept every one of God’s command performance directives. Jesus did all the will of the Father.

Jesus kept the Law to earn God’s favor and blessings. Jesus entered into the Covenant of Works to gain the blessings of the Kingdom.

But Jesus didn’t need to do this for Himself, Jesus lived and died for His people.

And when we place our faith in Jesus we are considered righteous by the Father. God considers those living in faith as clothed in the good works of Jesus. God views us in Christ. God views us as law keepers, not law breakers. We are treated as though we were the ones who perfectly kept the command performance directives of God.

If you have never removed faith in yourself, faith in your own ability to save yourself, faith in your ability to be good enough to gain God’s favor, then do that today. Abandon any false hope that you can regain God’s blessings by what you do. Place your faith in Jesus Christ alone for your standing before God, and trust in His work on your behalf.

Don’t have faith in your good works, but have faith in the good works of Jesus to regain the benefits of the Garden of Eden and Heaven itself.

And when we look to Jesus in faith, the “Thou Shalt” Commands of God are converted into the “I Will” Promises of God.

What is the First and Greatest Commandment? Matthew 22:37-38You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. The Second is to Love our neighbor as yourself.

What’s the chance that any of us could keep either of those commands perfectly? No way.

But the Thou Shalt Command becomes an “I Will” Promise. God promises to love us as Himself. Jesus swaps places with us on the cross. And God promises to transform our soul to love Him and others as Jesus loves the Father and the world.

We don’t fix ourselves. We don’t turn over a new leaf. We repent and run from our sin into the loving arms of God.

What does God does with our sin? Do we work them off in Purgatory by suffering? No.

Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

By the blood of the Son of God, the Father removes the curse of our sins and provides the eternal blessings of Heaven.

God won’t require a double penalty. Like a court room in America can’t file the same charges more than once. God doesn’t charge the same sins more than once. God laid those sins and the penalty for those sins on Jesus.

Looking in faith to Jesus this morning!

Trust His good works to get you into heaven. By faith your sins are forgiven. God will never again hold your sins against you.

While God has the right to keep shouting His command performance directives, instead, God speaks words of promise.

God says, I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

God receives us sin stained and dirty, but God converts our soul.

Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Who will do these things? GOD WILL. How does a sinner become a saint? By the power of the “I Will” Promises of God.

Jeremiah 24:7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

God performs His sovereign will in our life according to His mercy and grace. God loves us with an everlasting love. God will sanctify and glory His people. It’s in His heart to do so. He will accomplish His good plans for us.

Jesus kept the Covenant of Works for us, and now God is working salvation for us.

The “Thou Shalt” Commands that we trembled under are now the “I Will” Promises of God that enable us to glorify and enjoy God forever.

How does Zephaniah wrap up his book. After all the negative words of judgment in the previous chapters, he ends with the good news of the “I Will” Promises of the Gospel.

This is God’s commitment to us through Jesus Christ.

At that time I will bring you in. God shut us out of the Garden and cut us off from a relationship with the Creator, but through the Gospel we are brought back into the sweet fellowship of a personal relationship with God Almighty.

at the time when I gather you together God is going to gather together a people that will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. The Bible calls this the Host of Heaven.

And we will never again feel small. To count the people who are saved by God’s grace would be like counting the sands on the seashore. To personally know the family of God would be like being able to count and name all the stars.

The gathered host of heaven will be beyond your ability to calculate or know.

At the same time, we will never meet a stranger. We will never run out of people to meet.

for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth.

Do you know what it means to be Renown? It’s sort of like being a celebrity. Everybody knows your name. Everybody is glad to see you. Everybody wants to be around you.

Being a celebrity means that people want something from you. They want their picture taken with you. They want to be able to call you their friend.

In the American culture, being a celebrity often includes scandal and a lack of respect.

So God is going to make us more than just a celebrity. God is going to wash all our sins away and give us universal respect. All our indiscretions and moral failures must be scrubbed from the public record. That’s what Jesus does for us on the cross. Our moral failures are expunged.

And to fully bring us into the renown category, God will add a sense of nobility to our persona. God would have to give us the power to reign.

2 Timothy 2:12 if we endure, we will also reign with him.

I’ve studied in Baptist and Presbyterian schools. I have never heard an explanation of this reigning idea that doesn’t have some loose ends.

I think this fits into what Jesus explained that it hasn’t even entered the imagination of the saints the good things that God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord.

What fortunes will be restored?

Money? Yes. The assets of heaven will make everyone so rich that no one will care again about money. The streets will be paved with gold. The gates of the city will be made out of solid pearl. The untold glories of heaven will be ours as the children of God.

Will God restore our health?

Yes, God will make us new bodies that will never die or suffer pain. We will never again shed tears. We will never again want to sin. We will never again break the commands of God.

Will God give us back the time that sin and disease stole from us?

Yes, life forever more. God will nestle us into a new Garden of Eden, even a better dwelling place, that will encompass the whole universe. We will have access to God at any time. We will be the glorified children of God.

And time will be no more. I have often heard people say that there isn’t any time in heaven. Of course, there is succession of events. One thing will follow another – so time could be counted.

But we won’t consider the time. It is like the saying, “I was having so much fun that I lost track of time.”

And God will do these things for us. God will not require actions from us to earn, or maintain, these blessings. All these promises are secured by the will of God. These are the I Will Promises of God. They are eternally secure in Jesus for those who place their faith in Him.

May God bless us to believe and receive these promises today, to the glory of God. Amen.



[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.



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