Keeping Yet Kept
“To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father, and kept by Jesus Christ…..Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life……To Him who is able to keep you from falling. Jude 1, 21, 24
It is that time of year in Colorado when the mountains are gloriously splotched with golden majesty and variegated red hues of the myriad Aspen groves spread luxuriously amid the pines throughout the Rocky Mountains; the magnificence of God’s creative painting with brilliant colors in spectacular settings. It is almost too much to take in! It is that time of year of elk bugling, gathering and protecting their harems, the bulls confronting other bulls for preeminence with their own collection of cows (female elk). It is fascinating to watch and listen to say the least. This act of nature according to God’s design repeated every fall season in matchless beauty reminds me of the theme of Jude in his New Testament epistle and of the dialectic of Scripture which greets us throughout its pages: keeping, yet kept!
Jude’s words to begin and end his brief epistle present two expressed actions juxtaposed with one another in describing the heart of the Christian life and its promised end: eternal salvation. Those who are called and loved by God the Father are KEPT BY JESUS CHRIST with the parallel command to KEEP YOURSELF in the love of God as you wait for the mercy of His Son, always while He is able to keep you from falling! In a similar picture in nature, but far less significant, the mighty bull elk protects his harem, keeping them from other bulls, as his gathered cows must keep themselves within his conclave of protection.
The dialectic of Scripture presents to us the actions of a sovereign God which because of His character are certain and unchangeable actions over against the wooing of this loving God to earnestly seek Him and do all to keep yourself in His love. God’s unlimited power to save is presented immediately beside His invitation, His command, to keep within His love, overcoming the world, and patiently waiting for His mercy to bring you to eternal life. It is a dynamic dialectic of what God does sovereignly and irrevocably, and what you do every day in earnest response to such amazing love. One presents a basis of sure hope and trust for you, the embattled believer; the other, a spur to your own will to invest your life and actions exclusively in pursuing this God of your salvation, equating your purposes with His.
Some will emphasize one over the other to the detriment of God’s revealed will expressed in His infallible Word. The biblical Christian must keep the two in dynamic balance trusting in an all-powerful Savior while clinging to Him with every breath that is in you as if doing less would invalidate you from the promises offered. It is not a salvation of works; it is a willful response which acknowledges salvation by grace bestowed on you not of your own deserving. Your will in action to please God assures your own heart and mind of the genuineness of your faith. Faith without works is dead, and your faith proves its genuineness in choosing to live humbly and righteously.
Jesus Himself assures you that no one can snatch you out of His hand (John 10:28) once you are in His hand, while you continue to believe you are in it by clinging to His nail scarred hand by your choices. Sin, even in your life of faith, happens (see I John 1 and Romans 7). But His hand is constantly stretched out toward you for you to continually come and confess your sin with not only the promise of forgiveness, but a call to walk with Him in light, rejecting darkness. Your heart knows the difference between light and darkness! It is not complex, though you try to make it so.
Go into your day each day with the thought of keeping yourself in God’s love with everything that is in you, being fortified with the promise from your loving Father that you are kept from falling or failing in this endeavor of your own faith by Jesus.
“Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
(4th verse of Isaac Watt’s hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, 1707)
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