July 03, 2024

God’s Unbroken Promise & Unfailing Word

R.C. Sproul
God’s Unbroken Promise & Unfailing Word

How can we be sure that God will keep His promise to redeem His people? Today, R.C. Sproul turns to a verse in the Bible that displays the absolute reliability of God’s Word.


There’s this crazy thing—I don’t know where it came from in Christian circles—where, when we’re at conferences and people come up to me with their Bible and ask me to write my life verse; sign their Bible and write my life verse. And I said, “I’m not sure what a life verse is,” but I frantically thought about different places that I could sign, and so I finally came up with one.

And there was a little devilishness in my selection in Genesis 15:17, which I write it down, and invariably, people will come back ten or fifteen minutes later after they look it up, scratching their head and saying, “Did you mean to write this verse?” And I say “Yes.” It’s that verse in Genesis 15:17 where it says, “And that night when the sun had set, this smoking oven and burning torch passed between the pieces.”

And they look at me and say, “That’s your favorite verse?” I say, “Yeah, that’s my favorite verse.” They say, “Why is that your favorite verse?” I guess, because if you look at Genesis 15, it is the occasion in which God made a promise to Abraham. And Abraham said to God, “How can I know for sure that you will do what you say you will do?” (Gen. 15:8). And God condescended to Abraham’s weakness, to his unbelief. And He said, “Abraham, go and get these goats and these animals and cut them in half and put them as a path, like a gauntlet on the ground” (Gen. 15:9–10). And then after Abraham obeyed and cut up these animals in this grizzly ritual and laid them end to end in a pathway, God made Abraham have a deep sleep. And during that sleep, behold, this burning oven and flaming torch pass between the pieces.

The author of Hebrews understood that. That what is going on here in this theophany is that God, manifesting Himself as the burning fire, moves between these pieces and symbolically is saying to Abraham, as He’s cutting a covenant with him, He said, “Abraham, if I don’t keep My word, may I be torn asunder as you have cut these animals in two. I am promising you and swearing, not by My mother’s grave—I don’t have a mother. I’m not swearing by the earth—that’s My footstool. I’m not swearing by the heavens—that’s My abode. I’m swearing by Myself.” And because God could swear by nothing greater, He swore by His own being, saying, “If I break My word, may the immutable deity suffer mutation. I’m swearing by My holy character.”

Now, when I make a promise to you, you know that it’s possible I will break it. We, by nature, are covenant breakers. We are, by nature, people whose words cannot always be trusted. But God’s word cannot be broken. And Abraham, who becomes the father of the faithful, was a man who lived the rest of his days trusting not in what he saw, not in what he felt, but he trusted in the word of God.

Now friends, the hardest thing about being a Christian is believing and trusting and living on the basis of One you’ve never seen. Do you know that Jesus is in the room this morning? He’s here. How do I know it? I cannot see Him. I can’t hear Him. I can’t even feel Him. But I know He is here because He said He would be here. Someday you will see Him face-to-face, and the light of His countenance will flood us with glory. But in the meantime, we have His word.