When I see a promise of God in the Bible, how can I know if it applies to me?
The Bible includes many promises, but which ones are for us as individuals? There are a few ways we can look at the Bible's promises to help us better understand what they mean for us.
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One way is to look at the context of the biblical passage. For example, some promises are to a particular person in the Bible or a particular group of people, such as the nation of Israel. While there might be general principles that apply in these situations, the promises themselves are for certain people, times, and places.
For example, Jesus told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem after His ascension to wait for the Holy Spirit He promised to send: "And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, 'you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now'" (Acts 1:4-5). This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost and is recorded in Acts 2. It has already been fulfilled. We would not expect to have the same type of promise fulfilled in our lives today. It was specific to one group of people for one occasion.
Second, look for conditional statements in Bible promises. For example, 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The word "if" is very important. We must confess our sins in order to be forgiven.
Third, look for how general Bible promises apply to your own life. For example, Philippians 4:5-7 says, "Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." This was written to the Christians who lived in Philippi in the first century, but is also applicable to Christians today. God's peace will guard our hearts and minds today just as it has with Christians since the early church.
Another example can be found in 1 John 5:13: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." Every person who has believed in the name of the Son of God, Jesus, can know they have eternal life.
God offers many promises of hope to us in Scripture. However, it is important that we carefully study each promise in context to determine how it applies to us today. Some promises were meant for a specific person or group, while others apply more generally to all Christians. Some promises apply today, while others were fulfilled in the past or may be regarding a future prophecy. Other promises include conditional statements that are also important. Overall, we can be confident that God always perfectly fulfills His promises: "The LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations" (Deuteronomy 7:9).
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