Kept, to keep going!
“ Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life… Now unto Him (God) that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,” – Jude 21,25
We all know that gloves are designed to protect the hand from damage so that it can do what it was created to do.
Years ago I worked for an airline and de-iced aircraft. We had a large metal container of pure propylene glycol that we pumped out into another container. There we mixed it with water so as to jet spray it upon the planes. However, before we handled the glycol we dressed in protective equipment. Very thick rubber gloves were absolutely necessary because the glycol would damage the hands resulting into poisoning the blood stream.
We take the simplest things in life for granted – like gloves. Now we even have gloves that not only protect the hands but also help to strengthen one’s grip.
In our opening scriptures, some see them as a possible contradiction, but in reality these two truths go together like hand and glove. Jude instructs the believer to “keep yourselves” and then goes on to declare that God is the only one “able to keep you.” Which is it? The answer is both. It is the power of God to “keep you from falling,” and because He keeps you, you are given the protection and strength to carry out the instruction to “keep yourselves.” This is also called perseverance and preservation. Within the Christian community different groups over-emphasize one view to the exclusion of the other, and becomes stubborn about it causing division. As we have seen in Jude, these two views are both taught in the bible. In fact almost everywhere when believers are encouraged or warned to keep on and endure to the end, somewhere in the context God is in the background protecting and enabling the believer to do so. Once we see that both views are biblically true and go together then we unite instead of divide. Anyway, if the believer could by one’s own wisdom and strength actually keep oneself from falling away from God, then why does the bible mention God’s preserving power? The bible continually mentions that God is keeping and enabling the believer to do what they’re called to. “Wherefore, my beloved…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12,13). Obviously we are to “work out” what God “works in.”
God has designed that a believer will not be saved in the end if he or she does not persevere, and right in harmony with the believer’s perseverance is God’s preservation. In other words we are kept in the faith to keep on going in the faith.
David C. Hale, pastor