I LOVE GUARANTEES! When I buy a new car, the strength of the warranty is just as important as other factors such as gas mileage, handling, and safety. For me, a manufacturer’s warranty is a statement of faith—they are so confident in the quality of their product that they will stand behind it through “thick or thin.” You can bank on it!
Now if we analyze the makings of a “good” warranty, there are two vital ingredients that are required. First, the warranty itself must have value. For instance, a 5 day warranty on a new car is worthless (since I, as an incompetent mechanic, can probably build a car that will run for at least 5 days). However, a 5 year, bumper-to-bumper warranty is something much more meaningful. Second, the reputation of the company needs to be trustworthy. What good is a “lifetime” warranty from a company who is known for shortchanging and cheating their customers. The company who makes promises needs to be more than just talk—they need a good track record!
The Guarantees of Jesus
When Jesus was walking the Earth, he made many astonishing guarantees to his disciples regarding who he was and what he would do:
- He was the prophesied Messiah
- He was destined to suffer and die for mans sins
- He would be raised from death three days later
- He was the complete fulfillment of Scripture
- He would ascend to heaven
Each one of these guarantees, if taken to heart with the utmost conviction, had the power to radically transform the lives of the twelve disciples.
Take, for instance, the promise that Christ is the prophesied Messiah. Consider what this implies—His incarnation declares that God exists (He is not the creation of a guilty conscience or the projection of a father figure as some atheist suppose), there is a transcendent purpose and meaning to life (we are not empty bobbles floating in the purposeless vacuum of space), the teachings of Jesus are the direct mandates of God (not the ignorable ramblings of just another moral teacher), and holy Scripture is “God-breathed” and divinely inspired (and therefore we must take serious heed).
Now consider the implications of Christ’s crucifixion and death. The cross informs us that sin is not a problem—it is, in fact, the problem. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who believe that our human dilemma is caused primarily by a material failure (such as poverty, starvation, and global warming), and those who believe that our human dilemma is caused primarily by a moral failure (such as selfishness, pride, and faithlessness). The cross was God’s emphatic pronouncement that our core failure is most definitely moral in nature. Our “fallenness” is not from poverty of the pocketbook. Our “fallenness” is from poverty of the soul.
The third promise regarding his resurrection from death not only confirms that death has no hold over Christ, but also that death has no hold over those who put their faith in Christ. The curse that once resulted in spiritual separation and physical death has been lifted. And now the bonds that once held us as slaves to our sin has now been broken. For the first time in our lives, we can have joy! Joy incomprehensible! Joy eternal! No longer are we helpless pawns to our sinful desires. And God has placed the gift of his Holy Spirit in us to work out our sanctification towards holiness.
Remarkably, all five of these promises regarding his personhood and works have life-altering implications. And yet, all of the twelve disciples abandoned Jesus despite his step-by-step revelation of what would happen—despite his guarantees! Even Peter, who Jesus praised for correctly identifying him as Messiah, did not remain faithful. When the rooster crowed for the third time and Peter remembered Jesus’ prophecy predicting his denials, Peter wept bitterly.
Then something unthinkable happened. In a matter of a few weeks, Peter transformed from a trembling coward to an impassioned and fearless spokesman for Jesus Christ. In the second chapter of Acts we read that Peter boldly preached the gospel message to the very people who murdered Jesus. This was not a friendly or sympathetic crowd! If stirred to anger, these people would kill Peter too. But Peter didn’t care! He was compelled to preach the guarantees of Jesus regardless of any consequence. He was a changed man!
But what changed Peter? What turned Peter from a wimp to a warrior? If we read the events from the resurrection of Jesus to the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, we see that all five guarantees that Jesus promised were fulfilled before Peter’s eyes. Peter witnessed firsthand the crucifixion of Jesus, his resurrection from death three days later, how Scripture revealed the events of his life in exquisite detail, and his final miraculous ascension back to heaven. Although Peter knew the guarantees of the Manufacturer before these events occurred, he evidently did not trust that the Manufacturer would come through on his promises. Quite simply, before these events, Peter did not trust Jesus’ radical claims. With Jesus’ promises now obviously fulfilled and Scripture burning like fire within his hearts, Peter was compelled by the truth. Previously, Peter’s life was controlled by the winds and whims of the circumstances around him. After these events, the truth of the gospel smoldered inside his soul and now powerfully controlled him. Instead of constantly being “blown and tossed” around by the pressures of the external world, Peter was now an instrument of change for the world. He was changed from the inside out.
The question for us is this: Do we believe these truths? Do we really trust the guarantees of the Manufacturer?