Staggering in Unbelief at the Promises of God

2 Timothy 2:13

If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): If we believe not.” This may be understood, either of such who are altogether destitute of faith, who do not believe in Christ at all―or, it may be understood of true believers, whose faith sometimes is very low, as to its exercise on Christ, and with reference to their future glory and happiness.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Unbelief is at the bottom of all our staggerings at God’s promises. It is not the promise that fails, but our faith that fails when we stagger.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Experience teaches us how backward and slow we are to embrace the promises of God…But whence is it, that we with so much difficulty rely on the promises of God, except that we imagine Him to be like ourselves?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It is the cause of much weakness to many that they do not treat the promises of God as realities.  If a friend makes them a promise, they regard it as a substantial thing, and look for that which it secures; but the declarations of God are often viewed as so many words which means very little.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): But there is one grand difference between the promises of Adam’s children and the promises of God, which ought never to be forgotten. The promises of man are not sure to be fulfilled. With the best wishes and intentions, a man cannot always keep his word. Disease and death may step in like an armed man, and take away from this world him that promises. War, or pestilence, or famine, or failure of crops, or hurricanes, may strip him of his property, and make it impossible for him to fulfil his engagements. The promises of God, on the contrary, are certain to be kept. He is Almighty: nothing can prevent His doing what He has said. He never changes: He is always “of one mind:” and with Him there is “no variableness or shadow of turning,” Job 33:13; James 1:17. He will always keep His word.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The permanence of God’s character guaranties the fulfilment of His promises.

JOHN CALVIN: This doctrine must be frequently repeated and inculcated, that we may know that God will do what He hath once spoken.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Whether we believe or believe not, or whether we be faithful to our trust or be not, yet God will show Himself faithful, either to His promises made to them that believe, or to His threatenings denounced against those that believe not―for it is impossible that He Who is truth itself should be otherwise.

J. C. RYLE:It is impossible for God to lie,” Hebrews 4:18. The most unlikely and improbable things, when God has once said He will do them, have always come to pass. The destruction of the old world by a flood, and the preservation of Noah in the ark, the birth of Isaac, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the raising of David to the throne of Saul, the miraculous birth of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the scattering of the Jews all over the earth, and their continued preservation as a distinct people―who could imagine events more unlikely and improbable than these? Yet God said they should be, and in due time they all came to pass. In truth, with God it is just as easy to do a thing as to say it. Whatever He promises, He is certain to perform.

JOHN CALVIN: The promises of God, and His truth in performing them, are inseparably joined together…Let us therefore embrace all the promises of God with our whole heart, and let us also add to them His power; for His hand ought never to be separated from His mouth. We must not imagine His power to be, as philosophers talk, a power that is unemployed, but, as the Scriptures teach us, powerful and active.―“Therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak. Behold, it is I,” Isaiah 52:6. The verb “to speak” relates to the promises. Behold I, relates to actual power; as if He had said, “Although now there be nothing more than that there sound in your ears the words by which I promise what is hardly probable, yet you shall speedily obtain it; for I will actually accomplish what I promise.” Hence we ought to draw the universal doctrine, that the promises of God and the fulfillment of them are linked together by an indissoluble bond.

A. W. PINK: Where Divine veracity is engaged, omnipotence will make it good.

JOHN CALVIN: Unless we depend upon the word of God, all the benefits which He confers upon us will be unsavoury or tasteless to us…For of what advantage to us will the promises of God be, if we distrust Him?

JOHN GILL: There is no reason to stagger at, or hesitate about any of the promises of God, since they are made by Him that cannot lie; His faithfulness is engaged to perform them; with Him all things are possible; every promise is in Christ, yea and amen, and never did any fail; and yet so it is, that some of God’s children, through unbelief, do stagger at the promises of God; thinking either that they are too great for them, or demur upon them through difficulties which attend them.

C. H. SPURGEON: When we believe God as He is revealed in Christ Jesus, we believe all His promises. Confidence in the Person involves confidence in all that he speaks: hence we accept all the promises of God as being sure and certain.  We do not trust one promise and doubt another but we rely upon each one as true, and we believe it to be true to us so far as it has respect to our condition and circumstances.

JOHN CALVIN: All the promises of God must lean and be stayed upon this foundation, that they may be sure and certain to us, that God hath adopted us in Christ, and hath promised that He will be our God and our Father.

JOHN GILL: Christ is faithful to all His covenant engagements for [His people], to bring them to glory, and to every word of promise concerning their happiness, and to every branch of the faithful saying above mentioned; and He is ever the same in his love to them, and in the efficacy of His blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; and His salvation is an everlasting and unchangeable one; nor do the saints’ interest in it, and security by it, depend upon their acts of believing, or their frames, but upon the firmness and unchangeableness of Christ, the object of faith. “He cannot deny himself;” He cannot go contrary to His word; that would be to act contrary to His nature and perfections, and would be a denying of Himself, which is not possible; wherefore His faithfulness will never fail, even though, the faith of His people does, as to the exercise of it.

TIMOTHY CRUSO (1657-1697): The being of God may as well fail as the promise of God.


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