The Emperor Napoleon was reviewing some troops in Paris, and, in giving an order, he thoughtlessly dropped the bridle upon the neck of his horse, which instantly set off on a gallop. The Emperor was obliged to cling to the saddle. At this moment a common soldier of the line sprang before the horse, seized the bridle, and handed it to the Emperor. “Much obliged to you, Captain,” said the Emperor, by this one word making the soldier a captain. The soldier took the Emperor at his word and, saluting him, asked, “Of what regiment, Sir?” Napoleon, charmed with the man’s faith replied, “Of my guards!” and galloped off.
What an example of faith! The soldier believed himself to be a captain simply based on the Emperor’s word, even before receiving the uniform and before knowing his regiment. So, also, God is pleased when we take Him at His word. God has made many clear promises in the Bible, and is delighted when we believe Him and act on those promises.
For example, in John 1:11-12, referring to Jesus Christ, John writes, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But to as many as did receive Him, He gave power to become the sons of God.” The clear promise is that everyone who receives Jesus Christ becomes a child of God, just as surely as that soldier became a captain. He did not have to wait or struggle or work or plead. He just accepted the word of the Emperor.
So, also, I become a child of God, a member of God’s family, by accepting God’s word; not because I was good enough or energetic enough to work my way into that position; not because of any personal merit, or being better or different from anybody else; because scripture tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and that, in the eyes of God who knows our hearts, there is not a just man on the face of the earth that does good and does not sin. We must all repent of our sin and receive Christ’s death for us on the cross. So, there is nothing in me to deserve being accepted into God’s family and being made His child, but I become His child and know that I am His child solely because God made the promise and I believe it.
Jesus said in John 5:24, “Most certainly, I say to you, he who hears my word, and believes on Him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but has already passed from death unto life.” Right now I have a new life that will last forever in heaven. I possess it right now because God says so, even though I am not in heaven yet.
The soldier could have ignored Napoleon’s words and continued on as a soldier, just as people today can ignore the word of God and continue being deprived of a relationship with God and a change in their eternal destiny. But for those who are determined to take God at His word, the promises are clear. We read in I John 5:11, “These things I have written to you who believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life.” God said it; I believe it; that settles it.