May 26, 2024

Every Promise is Yes in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Preacher: Bryce Morgan Series: Our Bible Reading Plan (2023-2024) Topic: One Lord: No One Like You Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:20


Children's Lesson (click here)

I. “Precious and Very Great”

How reassuring are these words, believer? In 2 Peter 1:3-4, God's Spirit tells us thru the apostle,

[God's] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, [4] by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

This morning, I'd love to take some time and think more about that phrase, “his precious and very great promises”. Let's listen as another apostle speaks to that very same subject. Turn if you would to 2 Corinthians 1 (from last week's Bible Reading Plan).

II. The Passage: “Yes in Him” (1:20)

Drop down to verse 20 and consider with me this amazing truth shared by the Apostle Paul...

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

So who is the “him” Paul points us to in this verse? Well verse 19 answers that question clearly: it is “the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you”. Okay, so in this passage Paul is explaining, or breaking down, or unpacking how “all the promises of God [all of those 'precious and very great promises' granted to you—how all of them] find their Yes in [Christ]”, right? Actually, no. He doesn't that at all. So what he is doing here? Well...

In this passage, Paul is attempting to reassure them that he is not unreliable, or even worse, duplicitous (i.e., two-faced). This seems to be the charge that some of Paul's critics in Corinth were leveling against him. Why? Well, first, they were being influenced by false teachers who didn't like what he taught. But second, Paul had intended to make another visit to Corinth, but at the last minute, had changed his mind. Why the change of plans? He explains that in v. 23, “But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth.”

We can piece together that some difficult things were happening in Paul's relationship with the Corinthians. So even though Paul's opponents seized upon this change in travel plans to accuse the Apostle, in this passage he's trying to reassure them that he really is for them; he is fully for them. Or as he puts it in v. 17, “Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?” And so, (v. 18) as “surely is God is faithful”, that is, as surely as God is reliable, Paul and his companions are also reliably committed to these believers and to their spiritual welfare. In fact, look at how Paul gets more specific in verse 19...

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes.

The very message these believers received from Paul and his team was centered on a Redeemer who “is always Yes”; that is, Jesus is always fully for us. He does not waffle. He does not waver.

So this is the context that gives rise to Paul's stunning statement in verse 20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” Jesus is not a “yes” to some of God's promises, and a “maybe” to others. No. Every promise is fulfilled in Him for our eternal benefit. Amazing, right?!

But let's get even more specific by thinking about how Paul might unpack this statement for us. Even though he doesn't go any deeper in the immediate context, there are places in his writings that can help us to better understand this astounding truth. For example, the only other place where Paul uses this phrase, “the promises of God” is in Galatians 3:21, where he asks, “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God?” Which promises is he talking about there in Galatians? He's talking about the promises given by God to Abraham in the book of Genesis. Listen to Galatians 3:16... “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” So the promises given to Abraham are yes... in Christ! Paul explains this a few verses earlier in Galatians 3:8 where he writes that “the Scripture... preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'In you shall all the nations be blessed.'” That's Genesis 12:3. So the promise in Genesis 12, to 'reverse the curse' of Genesis 3, this promise of global blessing, comes through the gospel, the Good News about Jesus, to anyone and everyone who believes!

So when you continue to think about how Paul uses this word “promises”, you realize that he is not talking about just any promises to anyone in 2 Corinthians 1:20. He's actually talking about very specific promises from the Old Testament (just like we saw with Abraham in Galatians 3). This is how he talked about it with another Gentile church, the church in Ephesus: “...remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, [you were] alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise...” (Ephesians 2:12) Paul understood that the promises of God, the ones he has mind in all these passages, these were always connected to a “covenant”, a sacred agreement that God had made with an individual, or with the entire nation. These covenants always included the promise of certain blessings. For example...

Paul writes in Romans 3:25 about Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” The picture there is of Jesus becoming the perfect atoning sacrifice as required by the covenant give through Moses (“propitiation” = “mercy seat” in the Greek OT). As Paul would later write in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 21... “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Another covenant promise that Paul surely has in mind is the promise given to King David in 2 Samuel 7. In his preaching in Acts 13, Paul talked about “the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus...” (vs. 32-33a) What promises are these? Paul goes to make it clear that he's talking about the promises given to David concerning an everlasting throne. He spells this out in his letters as well. This is Romans 1,

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, [2] which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, [3] concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh [4] and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord... (Romans 1:1-4)

Finally, in this very letter Paul will tell the Corinthians that God (3:6) “has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.” This is the “new covenant” that was announced by the prophet in Jeremiah 31, some 600 years before Jesus. As that OT passage makes clear, this new covenant was meant to replace the covenant given through Moses. That's why Paul (again in 2 Corinthians 3) refers to it as “the old covenant”.

Speaking about Jewish listeners who have not believed in Jesus the Messiah, Paul writes...

For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. [15] Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. [16] But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. [17] Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (3:14-17)

So while that old covenant through Moses promised life and blessing and rest and forgiveness, all of it depended on our perfect obedience to God's law. But as we all know, only Jesus could offer perfect obedience; and as that spotless lamb, he offered himself to God on the cross in order to ratify that new, God-fulfilled covenant; to do what that old covenant could not do.

But again, think about our main text in 2 Corinthians 1:20... “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” What have we seen in this very, very brief overview? We've learned that Paul was most likely referring here to the promises of God given in the OT as part of the numerous covenants that he made with his people. While all of these promises may have had earlier fulfillments, these were always temporary or limited fulfillments. In his preaching and his writing, Paul confirms that only in Jesus Christ were all of these promises fully and finally fulfilled.

If Abraham was promised the blessing of a people, along with a place of blessing, in Jesus that promise was fully and finally fulfilled, since only through Jesus will a new people from “all the families of the earth” experience eternal blessing in a new heavens and a new earth.

If Moses was promised God's pardon and presence through obedience, in Jesus that promise was fully and finally fulfilled... through the perfect obedience and perfect sacrifice of Christ.

If David was promised an eternal throne, an everlasting kingdom, in Jesus that promise was fully and finally fulfilled, as Jesus, the Son of David, rose again from the dead on the third day.

And if God's people were promised a new covenant, in Jesus that promise was fully and finally fulfilled. As Hebrews 9:15 reassures us, “Therefore he [Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance...”

III. Jesus is Our “Yes”

Brothers and sisters, in light of that huge, Scripture-spanning statement at the beginning of our main text (2 Cor. 1:20), we can't miss the final sentence of that verse: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” What does that mean? Well, “amen”, which literally means “so be it”, is a statement of both affirmation and submission. When use the word publicly, we are letting be know that we not only agree with what has been said, but that we are also placing ourselves under that truth. With that in mind, Paul is reminding us here that the greatest “amen” of your life is your affirmation of and submission to that glorious truth that “all the promises of God find their Yes in [Jesus Christ]”. That ultimate “Amen” is proclaimed regularly, not simply with one's mouth, but more fully, with a person's life. But that's only possible because Jesus has fulfilled, and given us the fullness of, all of these “precious and very great” promises. So whether your are reading some-where in the OT, or thinking about the reliability, the trustworthiness of God, and his plans in this or that circumstance of your life... in all of it... look to Jesus. If He is yours through faith, then every covenant promise of God is yours through faith. May that not only reassure us, but also inspire us to learn more about these covenant promises and how Jesus fulfilled and will fulfill every single one of them. No matter where you are today, be reassured. Jesus is our “Yes”!