A Study By
Gary Ray Branscome

"For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God by us." (2 Corinthians 1:20)

    Since such promises as, “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” are widely quoted, those of us who trust in Christ have little difficulty in understanding that salvation comes to us through faith in God's promise (2Peter 1:4, John 3:16). However, many believers fail to realize that the grace that is ours in Christ is not limited to promises explicitly mentioning Christ, but includes all of the promises of God's grace, even some connected to a specific commandment or requirement of the law.

    Consider for example the promise found in Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.” Upon reading those words our sin-darkened hearts are quick to assume that God's blessing can be ours simply by performing the required work. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, anyone who tries to gain this blessing by their own works is walking in “the counsel of the ungodly,” for the Bible warns us against trusting in works (Jeremiah 17:5). What those who trust in works fail to see is that only those who have had their sins washed away by the blood of the lamb are sinless in the sight of God (1John 1:7 and 5:18). And, if we can only be made righteous through the forgiveness that is ours in Christ, then what is promised in Psalm 1:1 belongs only to those who trust in Christ. [Galatians 3:22, Psalm 51:3, Matthew 7:3, Jeremiah 3:13, Psalm 32:5, Psalm 52:8, Psalm 13:5, Psalm 136:26, Isaiah 55:7, Micah 6:8, Luke 1:77-78, 2 Samuel 22:3, Luke 1:47.]

    Before the fullness of the Gospel was revealed, the Law given to Israel required certain sacrifices. However, those sacrifices were not something the people did in order to make themselves righteous (works of righteousness), but a Divinely instituted way of confessing their sin. Moreover, God used those sacrifices as a way of giving those that came, His promise of forgiveness. Without that emphasis on mercy, those who were burdened with guilt might have despaired (as Judas did), or looked to works for assurance of salvation. Instead, God used animal sacrifice as a way of leading them to trust in His mercy (Hosea 6:6, Psalm 147:11).

    When these sacrifices were carried out as God intended, the person bringing the sacrifice went away believing that God’s anointed priest (who was a type of Christ) had made atonement for his sin, and that his transgression was covered by the blood. As a result, his assurance of salvation did not rest on faith in his own righteousness, but on faith in God’s mercy. And, because Christ is God, faith in God’s mercy was a form of faith in Christ (Psalm 13:5, Luke 1:47, Isaiah 54:5, Galatians 3:18,22, Hebrews 10:4, Psalm 147:11, Hosea 6:6).

    Today, even though animal sacrifice has been abolished, baptism and the Lord’s Supper both give us God’s promise of forgiveness in Christ. However, even though God uses those ceremonies to give us that promise, it is only through personal faith in Christ that we receive what is promised (2Corinthians 1:20, Galatians 3:22). [Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 7:12.]

    Because baptism was instituted “for the remission of sins,” those who come are saying by their act of coming that they are sinners who need forgiveness, and believe that there is forgiveness in Christ. The ceremony then tells them that they have forgiveness in Christ (Acts 2:38). Therefore, when baptism is carried out as God intended, the person being baptized goes away believing that when he came to Christ his sins were washed away (Acts 22:16). That assurance of forgiveness in Christ is the very essence of faith, and through such faith the Holy Spirit comes to all who believe (Galatians 3:2, Acts 2:38). Dr. Walter A. Maier put it this way:

“Take Jesus at His word, and you will find that through baptism – and I mean of course not merely the performance of the ritual itself, but by your personal faith in Jesus and in His promise – the Holy Ghost unmistakably comes to you.” (The Power of Pentecost, 1943)


    Once we have been cleansed from sin through faith in Christ, a multitude of blessings open up to us. For example, because we have been cleansed of sin we are the apple of God's eye, and He wants what is best for us (Zechariah 2:8, Psalm 17:8, Romans 4:8 and 8:28).

    Therefore, when it comes to the promise, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son,” what is promised only belongs to those who trust in Christ (John 14:13, 2Corinthians 1:20). Therefore, those who are truly praying in Christ’s name are not those who outwardly say “In Christ’s name,” but those who believe that God loves them, and will hear their prayers because of Christ and the forgiveness that theirs in Him (John 16:26, Galatians 3:22, 1John 1:7).

    The same holds true for the promise, “And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22). Those who “ask in prayer believing,” are not those who just believe it will happen, but those who believe that God will hear their prayer because their sins have been washed away in Christ (Galatians 3:22, John 16:26, Romans 8:28).

    Similarly, when it comes to the promise, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” what makes us righteous is not our works, but the forgiveness that is ours in Christ (James 5:16, Romans 10:4, Romans 10:4, Luke 1:77, Romans 5:19, 1John 1:9). Therefore, the faith that receives what is promised is not the faith of this world, but personal faith in Christ (Galatians 3:22). All the promises of God in Him are “yea” and “amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).


    Because many Christians fail to understand that Biblical faith is faith in God’s promise of forgiveness in Christ, some speak of faith in Christ as if Scripture played no part in it. However, the Bible makes it clear that our faith is not in Christ apart from Scripture, but in Christ as He is revealed in Scripture. And, the promises of God are the foundation stones of that faith (Romans 10:17, 2Peter 1:4).

 “Our faith is but a little spark of faith, which only beginneth to render unto God His true divinity. We have received the first fruits of the Spirit, but not yet the tenths. Besides this, reason [i.e. the carnal mind] is not utterly killed in this life.” (Luther's Commentary on Galatians, page 128)