Invitations and Promises

As I studied Eddie Rasnake’s workbook on Knowing and Following the Will of God, I was struck by his observation that the Bible contains proclamations (“Thou shalt…”), prohibitions (“Thou shalt not…”), principles, and promises.

Reflecting on this, I realized this weekend that sometimes we believe something is a proclamation by God, interpreting it as a command, when really it is an invitation!  Like Psalm 37:3-5 “Trust in the Lord and do good and you shall live securely in the land.  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to him, trust in him and he will act.”

A lot of times, when we interpret God’s invitations to us as proclamations or commands, we who are a stiff-necked, rebellious people resist.  If we recognize that God’s invitations are exactly that, invitations to us to enter into relationship …we feel free to accept instead of digging in our heels in resistance to God.

It seems that one way to distinguish an invitation into relationship from a proclamation/command is by the accompanying presence of a promise with the invitation.  In the scripture above, God extends three invitations:  trust and do good, delight in the Lord, commit your way and trust in him.  With these invitations he also offers three promises:  you will live securely (in your faith, in the kingdom of God), the Lord will give you the desires of your heart (he’ll conform your desires to be in harmony with his desires), and he will act on your behalf.  God is good and delivers on his promises.  His faithfulness is unequalled.  God invites us to test his promises.   God’s promises appeal to us.   The promises, if we recognize their value and who it is who is offering them to us, make the invitations enticing.  Saying yes to God’s invitation into relationship will never disappoint us!

Proverbs 3:5-6 similarly invites and promises:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  The invitation, again, is to trust God fully and the accompanying promise is that God will provide a clear and direct path.

How can we expect to claim the promises without accepting the invitation of relationship with God?