Dr. Harold J. Sala
Guidelines For Living
“Dear Dr. Sala,” writes a friend of Guidelines. “I do have one question that has been bothering me for a long time…. How do I know that I can claim a promise of Scripture when it is (in the context of the Bible) spoken to someone else?” Our friend went on to quote Mark 11:24, where Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Have you ever read something in Scripture and wondered, “Does that promise have my name on it?” That issue is valid, especially if you are interested in laying hold of the promises of God.
First, it is true that certain promises were made to specific individuals under circumstances not to be repeated. For example, when Abraham and Sarah were old, well beyond the age of childbearing, God promised a son to them. Question: Should individuals today in their 80s buy a home near an elementary school and pray for a child? Expecting the miraculous every time one prays is neither supported by the promises of Scripture nor by the deposits we make in our bank accounts.
The following are guidelines which will help you better understand the promises of God’s Word.
Guideline #1: Ask, “Was this promise given to a specific individual or group of people, or is it a general promise which I can claim personally?” Some promises were given to a specific person yet are consistent with the nature and will of God. These strengthen and encourage us, understanding that there is no respect of persons with God. His desire to help sustain and strengthen His children is the same in all ages. The Old Testament is full of such promises.
Guideline #2: Interpret the promises of Scripture in light of Scripture. For example, Paul told a Roman jailer to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and he would be saved (Acts 16:24). It’s valid to claim that promise because it is consistent with other promises in the Bible.
Guideline #3: Ask, “Is what I am praying about consistent with what God has already revealed as His will in Scripture?” If so, you can hold on to that promise and ask God to honor it.
Guideline #4: When you pray, ask in faith and leave the issue in God’s hands. “God always gives the best,” said missionary Hudson Taylor, “to those who leave the choice to Him.”
A final thought: It is absolutely amazing how God does something as you trust Him in simple child-like faith. Repeatedly I have seen this happen in the house churches of China among the ranks of those who never saw a Bible commentary in all their lives. They simply read the Word and said, “Yes, God. I believe that. Please do it for me.” And He did. At times, no matter what you believe, you are right. Believe that God will do what He says, and He does. Believe that a promise is valid only for someone else, and you are also right.
Years ago, Hop Hadly, a man who had been saved from a drunkard’s grave, preached at a rescue mission on the text, “He who gathers not with me, scatters abroad.” But he misread the Scripture. With scalding tears he preached that he who gathered not with Jesus Christ “scratched a board” in hell for all eternity. And you know something? As he pled with men with tears in his eyes to come to Jesus, people got saved. Thank God, He takes pity on His children.