The Saints’ Safeguards
The apostasy is making rapid strides in the lands where the light of the Gospel has shone. The truths of Christianity are given up even if not derided. The glorious person of the Son of God, born of a virgin, truly God and truly Man; the atoning value of His precious blood; the bodily resurrection of the Saviour; the seriousness of sin; the coming of righteous judgment; these and all the salient features of Christianity are denied. And this is done by professed friends of Christ who often receive large salaries and stipends for the defence of His Name and betray Him in the house of His friends.
But are the foundations shaken? Not at all. They are sound as ever, firm for eternity. The house is on the rock, and stormy winds and tides cannot move it. The fact of the giving up of the truth is only confirmatory of the truth itself, for in “the Scripture of truth” it is written that this should come to pass “in the last days” (see 2 Tim. 3:5).
We may be heartily thankful to our God that in His wisdom and goodness His saints have been forewarned in His word in order that they may be forearmed for the fray. He permitted the apostles and others to remain on earth and to communicate His truth in written form so that it might abide for the direction and instruction of His loved ones who should find their lot cast in such days as these in which we have to pursue our homeward way.
Thus it is we have Paul’s communications (2 Timothy); Peter’s (2 Peter); James’ (James 4 and 5); and John’s (1, 2 and 3 John); all bearing upon the giving up, by professors, of the truth of God. And thus it is we have the Epistle of Jude, parts of which I wish to call attention to briefly for the comfort of Christians today.
The opening of his brief writing is encouraging. He addresses Christians as: (1) The sanctified (or we should rather read beloved) in God the Father; (2) the preserved in Jesus Christ; (3) the called ones.
Whatever has failed or broken down, God abides. His love, His preserving care, His powerful call. These do not cease, they are the more called into expression by the condition of things prevailing in the midst of that which professes Christ’s name.
1. How blessed are we who are enfolded in the love of God our Father, wrapped about by the garment of His eternal affections, loved with the love wherewith He loves His Son. The sense of this may well sustain the heart amid the giving way of so much which once appeared to be stable and secure. The love of God our Father can never give way.
It is said that wise Russians amid the rigours of their winter take care to be thoroughly warm in themselves as well wrapped up before going out into the icy blast. Thus they save themselves from being chilled by the intense cold to which they are exposed.
So should it be with us Christians, the beloved ones (vv, 1, 17, 20). We should keep ourselves in this love of God (v. 21). We should live in the constant enjoyment of it. Thus the elements around will be resisted, and we be maintained in spiritual warmth and vigour.
2. Blessed also it is that we are preserved in Jesus Christ. Some would translate “preserved by Jesus Christ,” and yet others “preserved for Jesus Christ.” Whichever way we read it there is the deepest comfort for the Christian in the thought of his preservation while defection is manifested on every side. How can I stand in such an evil time? This leader and that leader turn aside from the truth, and multitudes go in the way of evil, Can I be maintained in the midst of almost universal secession from vital Christianity
Yes! Christ continues firm and faithful to His own. Yes! He remains, and He is “the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” The grace of His heart and the grip of His hand are just as they were of old. He was enough for His own in the day of His humiliation here, and He is enough for His own in the day of His glory on high. We hear Him say for the cheer of the disciples whom He was about to leave: “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth; go ye therefore . . . and lo, I am with you alway [lit. “All the days”] even unto the end of the world [age]. Amen” (Matt. 28:18-20). Ever keep in your thoughts these words, “all power” (not only in heaven but in earth) and “I am with you all the days.” And these last days are included by that comprehensive “all.” And indeed, our times are perhaps specially covered by the concluding words, “Even unto the end of the age.” No cessation of His power and no cessation of His presence with His own even during the mighty upheavals which may be looked for at the end of their earthly sojourn.
They are preserved in Jesus Christ. As a jewel locked in a casket they are kept in the heart and hand of Christ, and none can snatch them thence. They are preserved by Jesus Christ. All this almightiness is about them, and who shall break through their defence? They are preserved for Jesus Christ. He maintains them for His witnesses and workmen until the purposes of God His Father are fulfilled, and the last of those forming His assembly, His body, His bride, are gathered in.
3. These beloved ones and preserved ones are also “called ones.” They have heard in the secret of their souls the voice of divine power. They have been quickened out of their death in sin and are alive unto God in Christ Jesus. As such they are no longer of the world but are separated from it. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world,” said the Lord of such. As Abraham of old was called out of the idolatry to be a witness for the true God, so believers today are called out of the system of things which men have formed in their efforts to make themselves happy without God.
They are saints by calling. They are called ones of Jesus Christ. They are partakers of the heavenly calling. And this call does not accord with the greatness and glory, the glitter and glamour, of the world. “Ye see your calling, brethren,” says the apostle Paul to the Corinthians, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise . . . that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:26-29).