Summary: Put your trust in Christ and enjoy a new name and a new life as God's guarantee of a glorious new future with Him.
Max Lucado tells the story of being dropped by his insurance company because he had one too many speeding tickets and a minor fender bender that wasn't his fault. After that, he received a letter in the mail, informing him to seek coverage elsewhere. As he thought about how he wasn't good enough for his insurance company, he thought about those who feel the same with God. Max Lucado writes, “Many people fear receiving such a letter [from God]. Some worry they already have.”
Then he imagines what that letter, straight from the Pearly Gates Underwriting Division, would say:
Dear Mrs. Smith,
I'm writing in response to this morning's request for forgiveness. I'm sorry to inform you that you have reached your quota of sins. Our records show that, since employing our services, you have erred seven times in the area of greed, and your prayer life is substandard when compared to others of like age and circumstance.
Further review reveals that your understanding of doctrine is in the lower 20th percentile and you have excessive tendencies to gossip. Because of your sins you are a high-risk candidate for heaven. You understand that grace has its limits. Jesus sends his regrets and kindest regards and hopes that you will find some other form of coverage. (Quoted in Brady Boyd, Sons & Daughters, Zondervan, 2012, page 40; www.PreachingToday.com)
Sad to say, there are a lot of believers who feel that way. They wonder if they have exhausted God’s grace and have become “high risk candidates” for heaven. They’re not sure of their future with God.
Well, I’ve got good news for them and for you if you feel this way sometimes. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 17, Genesis 17, where God gives believers some guarantees and assurances about their future.
Genesis 17:1-2 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” (ESV)
Abram is anything but “blameless.” but God wants to assure Him anyway. God wants to confirm the promise he made to Abram about his future. Even though he is not “blameless,” and even though he has had lapses of faith, God wants Abram to know without a shadow of a doubt that His promises are still good.
This, on top of the fact that Abram is 99 years old, and Sarai, his wife, is 89 years old. People that age just don’t have kids. It would almost be like Bob and Ann Burns announcing that they are expecting a child. It just doesn’t happen!
Even so, God wants to guarantee his promise that he will give Abram many descendants. How?
Genesis 17:3-5 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram… (ESV)
The name means “Exalted Father.” It’s a name that looks back to his royal lineage.
Genesis 17:5 “No longer shall your name be called Abram (Exalted Father), but your name shall be Abraham…”
The name means “Father of a Multitude.” It’s a name that looks forward to his many descendants.
Genesis 17:5 “…For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”
Notice, it’s in the past tense. It’s as good as done with God. Abram’s name change is God’s eternal guarantee that He will keep his promises to Abram.
Genesis 17:6-8 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” (ESV)
God’s promises are everlasting! That means nothing will ever stop God from keeping His promises. Abram is 99 years old and his wife is 89 years old, BUT THAT WON’T STOP GOD. Their descendants will spend 400 years in slavery in Egypt, BUT THAT WON’T STOP GOD. Babylon will carry them away in exile for 70 years, BUT THAT WON’T STOP GOD. Rome will ransack their capital city and scatter them all over the world, BUT THAT WON’T STOP GOD. They will be without a country for nearly 1900 years, BUT THAT WON’T STOP GOD. Hitler will try to wipe them off the face of the earth, BUT THAT WON’T STOP GOD. Radical Muslim terrorists will wage “holy war” against them, BUT THAT WON’T STOP GOD. No matter what happens,