March 7, 2017

When Jesus Said I Will

The Word of God is instructive, encouraging, and full of promises. Some of the most beautiful and powerful of those promises are the words of Jesus himself. Over thirty times in the New Testament, the Lord stated “I will” do this or that. That number does not include instances when one of the Gospel writers quoted Jesus, or occasions when the Lord spoke in parables. These are times when Christ himself said “I will” in extending promises.

A promise of salvation

We begin with the promise recorded in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” If you are unsaved today, Jesus is knocking on your heart’s door. The hope of eternal life begins at salvation. If you have not experienced the forgiveness of sin that only Jesus can give, you need to start there.

Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks, waiting for us to open so He can enter. If we give Him access, He promises that He will come in, but the choice is ours. Jesus is not an intruder. He will not barge into a person’s heart. He knocks and waits, and it is up to us to grant Him entry. When we do, He gives us blessings that we do not deserve—forgiveness and peace and joy and comfort. The Bible says He sheds His love abroad in our hearts.

We want to be clear about what salvation is, because that is where our hope of eternal life begins. Salvation is not just acknowledging Christ. It is not simply confessing or accepting Christ. It is not just calling on His Name. It is not even saying the sinner’s prayer, though all of these may lead us toward salvation. Salvation is an act of God, a miracle of transformation that occurs when we come to God in repentance and believing faith, and let Him take control of our lives. 

A sinner must acknowledge his sinful condition. He must confess and believe that Jesus Christ is the only remedy for the sin problem. If there is no repentance—no turning from sin—there can be no salvation. But when a person turns away from sin and opens the door of his heart, the Lord enters in. Salvation occurs, and that individual begins a new life. Then and only then, all the promises in God’s Word are within reach.

A promise of usability

One of those “I will” promises that becomes ours at salvation is found in Matthew 4:19. “And he [Jesus] saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” God is interested in making us what He wants us to be, and that happens through following Jesus Christ. If we are obedient to the Lord, He promises to use us to spread His Gospel. We may feel inadequate, but the Lord will join with us to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. Notice that we are to “follow” Him. We do not walk shoulder to shoulder next to the Lord, and certainly do not move out in front of Him. We follow behind Him, step by step. Then He will lead us in the right path. In the spiritual realm, nothing of much value is achieved in one step—that is just a starting point. However, as we continue to follow God, He shapes us into what He wants us to be.

A promise of guidance

The Lord is promising to help us fully comprehend the truth He expounds if we will come to Him and listen, really paying attention.

In Luke 6:47, Jesus preceded His parable about wise and foolish builders by saying, “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like.” This is more than the Lord telling His listeners, “I am going to tell you a story about a wise man and a foolish man who built houses on rock and sand.” The Lord is promising to help us fully comprehend the truth He expounds if we will come to Him and listen, really paying attention.

There are great advantages to staying close enough to the Lord to hear His sayings. One of those advantages is that we will receive clear direction. The Lord says “I will show you.” In other words, “I will help you comprehend the way to go.” Whether we need direction in the decisions of life or instruction in righteousness, we need the Lord to help us, to show us. However, we must be close enough to see where He is pointing.

Some years ago when my son was young, the two of us were hunting together when I saw something on a distant hillside. I told him, “Look over there,” but the object was a long way off and he couldn’t see what I was looking at. So I told him, “Come here close to me and I will show you where I am pointing.” Have you ever done that? If you are close together, the other person can look down your finger to see exactly where you are pointing. That is what the Lord wants to do with us. In effect, He says, “Come here close and I can show you. I can point you in the direction that I would like you to go.” God will give clear directions if we get close enough to Him.

Sometimes people complain that they cannot get an answer from God. Perhaps they are not truly seeking the Lord but are living their lives as they wish. Maybe they are even on the edge of disobedience, and then they wonder why life seems to be a guessing game. When we draw close to God, He will reveal His will. Get near to Him! Get to know Him intimately! Paul the Apostle said he longed to “know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Those words describe a close relationship. The Lord will help us get there and will give us clear direction when we do, although His guidance often comes step by step.

A promise of healing

In Matthew 8:2-3 we find Jesus’ promise regarding divine healing. A leper came to Jesus and worshipped him, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” This leprous man made a bold statement. He did not say, “If you can . . .” but “If you will . . .” There is a big difference!

The Lord can do whatever He wishes. In searching the Scriptures, not one time do we find Jesus saying of Himself, “I can.” That He can is a given. It was the leper’s faith that evoked a response from Jesus. The afflicted man’s words implied, “I believe that You can. If You will, You are able to do this.” We can do the same thing when approaching the Lord. We can come with boldness—with respect and with reverence, but boldly, and in faith. In Hebrews 4:16, this is how we are encouraged to approach the Throne of Grace.

Jesus’ response to the leprous man’s statement of faith was “I will; be thou clean.” Instantly the leper was cleansed! We believe in divine healing. Sometimes people who are afflicted are doubtful, wondering if healing is for them. Perhaps the enemy puts the question in their minds, What about Paul? He was not healed . . . how can I be sure healing is for me? If we are anointed with oil and prayed for by the elders of the church as the Bible says (see James 5:14), we can have faith in Jesus’ promise. If healing does not happen right away, we can come for prayer once again. Until we hear from God as Paul did that what we are going through is His will and plan, we have the right and privilege to keep praying for healing and believing that the Lord will heal us. The Bible says they brought the sick to the Lord and He healed them all.

A promise for others

In Matthew 8:7, we read about a centurion who came to the Lord on behalf of his servant. Jesus knew of this man’s request before he asked it. When the centurion told the Lord that a servant in his house was sick, Jesus told him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion did not even need to ask! Our hearts tell the Lord all He needs to know, but our requests can activate our faith.

Jesus healed this servant because of another person’s faith. What a beautiful picture of intercession! Many of us have had the opportunity to pray for someone who is not nearby in terms of proximity, and then have heard later that the Lord healed that one or took care of the problem. What a God we serve! The Lord can put a burden on our hearts in the middle of the day or night to pray for someone. We petition the Lord on behalf of that one, lifting our hearts to God and expecting Him to answer. Jesus responded to the centurion with “I will,” and He will do the same for the requests we bring to Him on behalf of others.

A promise of wisdom

In Luke 21:15 we find a promise regarding wisdom: “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.” The Lord was speaking here of coming events. He said there was no need for His followers to dwell ahead of time on what they would say in such circumstances, promising “I will give you a mouth and wisdom.”

The Word of God is our reference and our weapon, but we need to know it to use it. When the Word of God is woven into us, we can access it and respond appropriately.

Claiming this promise takes action on our part. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” The Word of God can give us what we need to address situations properly, but we must know God’s Word. It will instruct us in how to speak and act with wisdom. Psalm 119:11 says “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” We can couple that with Proverbs 4:23, which cautions, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If we hide the Word of God in our hearts, it gives us protection. If we place it down deep and keep it with diligence, we will have wisdom to address the issues of life. The Word of God is our reference and our weapon, but we need to know it to use it. When the Word of God is woven into us, we can access it and respond appropriately.

At times you may be asked what you think about this or that situation going on in our society. I like to respond that it does not matter what I think. What does the Word of God say about it? When someone questions you about an issue being debated in today’s society, you can say, “I believe we should follow what the Bible says.” The Word of God has power! It can give us the answers we need, but we have to know it. We cannot recall something we have never learned.

A promise of renewal

A promise in Matthew 11:28 speaks to times when we need refreshing or renewal. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus knows our lives can become busy. He knows that the pressures of life can get to us, so He says “Come unto me . . . and I will give you rest.” We could also read these words as, “I will refresh or renew you.” God promises a refreshing, but we must come to Him.

Coming to Him does not mean just attending church. We have to make it all the way to Jesus to receive His rest. Church is a great place to be, but it is when we come to Jesus that we find rest for our souls. Make the effort! Get all the way to the Lord!

This verse certainly is an invitation to the unsaved. Sin is heavy; it weighs people down. Jesus can lift that burden of sin when one opens his heart and allows Him in. But this verse also applies to those of the redeemed who are burdened or laden down. Come to Jesus! He will give you rest. In all of the cares and busyness of life, when we come to Jesus we find refreshing. Oh what a Lord we serve! He takes care of us.

A promise of answered prayer

In John 14:13-14, we find a twice-repeated promise of Jesus. Verse 14 says, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” This was a repetition of the statement in verse 13: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The repetition seems to emphasize that the Lord is on our side. That is why we pray “in Jesus’ name.”  He wants us to know that He will work for us if we ask in His name, that the Father in Heaven may be glorified. We want to remind ourselves and those who may be listening that there is power in that Name. We do not want any doubt there.

While there is power in the Name of Jesus, we do need to understand that praying in Jesus’ name is not a blank check by which we get whatever we want. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are praying that God will respond to our petitions according to His will. Jesus’ desire is always that the Father in Heaven be glorified, so when we pray in Jesus’ name, that is our desire as well. God knows what is best, and answers prayer in a manner that will glorify Him.

As we pray and draw close to God, we find assurance that it is always best to let Him choose for us. His will is always the best way. Like Jesus, we want to pray with a spirit of “Thy will be done.” We want our hearts to be yielded, our spirits to say, “Take anything out of my life that may hinder. Add whatever You know will most glorify the Father.” A prayer like that brings resolution to a lot of situations.

When we are enjoying those intimate one-on-one times with the Lord, we find that we simply have no desire to ask anything based on our own limited perspective of what would be best.

When we are enjoying those intimate one-on-one times with the Lord, we find that we simply have no desire to ask anything based on our own limited perspective of what would be best. The Lord is so close and the communion is so precious that our hearts naturally say, “Whatever You will, Lord. Whatever You want. Put my requests and my human thinking aside because You know what is best. You add and subtract whatever is needful in my life, and I will be happy with that.” When we pray in that manner in Jesus’ name, God can fill us with all His fullness.

The promise of a Comforter

A couple of verses later in the same chapter, Jesus gives another wonderful promise. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). In the prior verse, Jesus gave the requirement: “Keep my commandments.” When we are obedient to God, Jesus promises to send His Holy Spirit to fill us.

While the presence of the Holy Spirit is a precious gift, we do not want to simply seek for the experience itself. We should seek to be close to God. We do not have to worry about when and where and how we will receive the Holy Spirit. We simply need to seek Him.

This will mean drawing near to Him. Can you fill a drinking glass from a pitcher that is across the room? Of course not! You need to place the glass close to the source of water. We need to be close to the Lord before He can fill us. Receiving the Holy Spirit cannot happen from a distance. When we get close, He can fill us. He will do so, and it will be a definite experience. Then, as we remain close to the Lord, He will abide with us forever.

A promise for the future

In John 14:3, we find a promise for our future. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Jesus is coming back to earth: He promised “I will come again.” His desire for each one of us is not just that we be saved, sanctified, and filled with His Holy Spirit, but that we spend eternity with Him in a place He is preparing. The word translated place in this verse is very specific. Jesus said He was going to prepare a specific spot or location. He was not describing a general gathering. He was speaking to His disciples, and He told them, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Each one of them could have inserted his name in that promise.

You can insert your name in it as well! He is preparing a specific spot for you. The Lord is expecting you. We can go to many places on this earth that have been prepared for guests, but one day the Great Host will escort us personally to an eternal dwelling place He has prepared especially for us. John 16:22 says, “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”  The joy we share with Him there will last forever.

What a beautiful group of promises! And the best part is, we have these assurances from Jesus himself. Today, if you are in need of divine help, draw close to God. Look into the Word of God, rely on Him, and He will bring you the help you need. He promised!

apostolic faith magazine