When perils surround us, and subtle and dangerous foes watch for our hurt on every hand, shall we not find relief in knowing that we have a reliable assurance of safe keeping? This assurance is given by he Lord Jesus Christ to His faithful people. Satan and his angels cannot be seen by the natural eye, but they are always on the watch to draw men away from Christ, and to injure them by every possible means. What comfort there is for those who belong to Christ to feel that He will keep them, and will never lose hold of them. They may have no earthly friends, their cup of sorrow may be filled to the brim, and Satan’s temptations may be felt difficult to resist, yet the glorified Lamb of God will keep His people. They may suffer in outward circumstances, bodily pain and discomfort, contempt and scorn may be their lot, but the souls of those who have the inward assurance and teaching of the Holy Spirit are safely kept by Christ.
From the most blessed of all lips this prayer once rose: ‘Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. While I was with-them in the world, I kept them in thy name.’ Referring immediately to His disciples of that day, they refer also to those of Christ’s people still hidden in nature’s darkness, his ‘dead elect’; for He went on to say, ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.’ Those who are still uncalled have to be brought out of their dark condition into the Saviour’s fold, to be safely kept by Him.
Do Christians sufficiently realize the value of this safe keeping, and seek it not only in time of trouble and temptation, but in the hour of prosperity and comfort also? The Christian’s easy times are his most dangerous. He is then liable to be un-watchful, while the adversary is most watchful to make his subtle attack. David was apparently at ease when he walked on his house-top. He sinned, but not fatally; for God restored him; and by means of the punishment for this sin, he was quickened to see that he was shapen in iniquity’. His broken and contrite heart then, was more acceptable than when
he said, ‘I have walked in mine integrity.’
The world has a strong objection to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, not only as to the constant keeping required by the soul, but even over the material works of His own creation, and how He shall apportion and govern the earth. Men, in their natural pride, seek to pull down God’s sovereignty, and to take it to themselves. They would be subject to no law but their own. The Lord Jesus said in His prayer to the Father, with reference to His disciples, ‘Thine they were and thou gavest them me.’ Those who are chosen by God are given to the Son to be kept, according to the agreement made by the Persons of the Eternal Trinity. ‘I pray for them, I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine;
and I am glorified in them.’ They are sanctified by the Father, they are His own people, set apart for His glory and service. They are described by Jude as preserved in Jesus Christ. They are also said to be ‘called’ – called out of Satan’s kingdom of darkness into His own kingdom of marvellous light; spiritual life is implanted within them, for they cannot be said to live till they live in Christ. They are kept from finally falling away, though alas, they are prone to fall into sin, for they have no strength of themselves; and if they were severed from the true vine – were such a thing possible – they would be lost eternally; but they are safe because Jesus keeps both them and their faith. Those who are thus kept know their need of His keeping. By the world they may be called ‘narrow’, and other names; but what does it matter if Jesus keep them?
The children of God are prayed for now, as when Jesus was on earth, personally and individually, and this makes them feel so much happiness in His keeping. His very presence at His Father’s right hand is His continuing prayer, and He prays for each one whom the Father gave Him, as if there were no other. To Peter He said, ‘I pray for thee’, and Peter’s individual case was brought before the Father. We want individual salvation, ‘according as He hath chosen us in Him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love . . .’ The withholding of this doctrine in so many evangelical pulpits leads to shallowness in the present day. When the doctrine of grace is amitted, other truths of God’s Word soon follow; the coming sinner is robbed of the firmness of the Gospel purpose, and the converted sinner is robbed of the comfort of its keeping power. It is no mean thing for the weakest and poorest of the flock to know that he is personally interceded for in heaven. God gave His chosen ones singly to the Saviour, and the Saviour keeps each one. Christ added no names to the Book of Life in the days of His flesh, for it was complete from the foundation of the world. He faithfully performed
His Father’s will with respect to those given Him. He called them
His sheep, and now He is in heaven He will not neglect their safe
Not only does the Lord Jesus keep His people safe for the heavenly rest to come, but He keeps them while they are here from love of the world and its snares. If they wander into by-path meadow He brings them back; so also when they neglect the path of duty, or run into temptation. Jesus prayed for a deeper sanctity for His disciples; and the same is His concern for His people now. They constantly need increase of faith, hope, and love; of humility and of holiness generally. ‘Sanctify them through thy truth’ said the Saviour. How important, then, is that truth! ‘Thy Word is truth.’ In order to answer its purpose it has to be received into the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, so as to be known experimentally. And such is the case with those ‘who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.’
K. W. H. Howard