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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Is a promise an assurance?

In this morning's Today programme, on BBC Radio 4, there was an interview with a journalist who had been covering the trial of Dr Conrad Murray, accused of the involuntary manslaughter of the pop star, Michael Jackson.  She was asked about the scene when the "Guilty" verdict was announced to the waiting crowds.  This lady was obviously very excited, and repeated the words "I promise you".  However, she was using those words as a means of assuring listeners that she was telling the truth!

I have always understood that a promise applied to a future event - "I promise that I will meet you at such-and-such a place"; while an assurance applied to something in the past - "I assure you that the man bit the dog!"  It is, of course (and regretfully!) a typical USA corruption of the English language, that allows the two concepts to be thus confused.

In my private devotions, this morning, I was reading in John 14. In that chapter, John records these words of the Lord Jesus: "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (vs.2-3)

That's a wonderful promise for the disciple of Jesus!  It's something that points to the future.  However, because it is fixed in eternity - which is timeless, with neither past nor future - then it is also an assurance!  In eternity, in that dimension that we call 'heaven', the promise is already kept.  It's a mind-blowing concept, but I am totally convinced that it is gloriously true!

Of course, that promise only applies to His own - those who have placed their trust in Him, and Him alone, for their salvation.  But for them, it is not only a promise, but also a wonderful assurance.

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