4: KEPT

VI KEPT.

“For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I
have committed unto him against that day.” II. Tim. i. 12.

“Kept by the power of God unto salvation.” I. Peter i. 5.

The more precious any treasure is, the more important is it that it be guarded and kept.
The figure of our first text is that of a bank deposit and literally reads, “He is able to keep
my deposits against that day.” When great deposits of gold are being conveyed to the
vaults of some rich bank, whole squadrons of police stand guard, and the most powerful
locks, bolts, bars, and walls and the most ceaseless and sleepless vigilance of watchmen
and detectives are employed to guard them. Sometimes the figure is used in a military
sense. The second text is of this kind and literally should be translated, “Who are
garrisoned by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” What vast expenditures
and mighty armaments and armies are employed to garrison the great strategic points that
guard the gates of nations, such as Port Arthur, Gibraltar, Quebec, and other citadels.
Sometimes the figure is used of the shepherd and his flock, “He will gather Israel and
keep him as a shepherd doth his flock.”

But whatever figure or phrase may be employed, the one great thought that God would
convey to the hearts of His tried and suffering people is, that they are safe in His keeping,
and that He is able to guard that which we have committed unto Him against that day. Let
us look at some of His gracious promises to keep His people.

1. He will keep us wherever we may go or be. Listen to the first promise of our
Divine Keeper as it was addressed to Jacob in the hour of his loneliness and fear,
“Behold, I am with thee and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest; for I
will not leave thee until I have done all that which I have spoken to thee of.” How
He kept that word to Jacob! How many the various places where providence cast
his lot! The land of Laban, the cities of the Shechemites, the land of Goshen,-
everywhere his covenant God guarded and kept him. He was not an attractive
figure, he was not deserving of any special consideration. He was the “worm
Jacob,” but God loved him in his infinite grace, and kept him, disciplined him,
taught him, and prepared him to be the head of Israel’s tribes, and the day came
when he could say, “The God that fed and led me all my life long, the angel that
kept me from all evil.”

Some of you may be in strange places, lonely places, hard places, dangerous
places; but if you have taken Jacob’s God as your covenant God, you can rest
without a fear in that ancient word, “Behold, I am with thee and will keep thee in
all places whithersoever thou goest; for I will not leave thee until I have done that
which I have spoken to thee of.”

“To me remains nor place nor time,
My country is in every clime,
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.
“Could I be cast where Thou art not,
That were, indeed, a dreadful lot,
But regions none remote I call,
Secure of finding God in all.”

2. He will keep us as the apple of His eye. “Keep me as the apple of the eye” (Ps.
Xvii. 8). This is a beautiful figure founded upon the sensitiveness of the eyeball to
the approach of any intruding cinder or particle of dust. Instinctively the eyelid
closes before the object can enter. There is no time to think, for the action is
intuitive and involuntary. The idea is that we are as near to God as our eyeball is
to us, and as much a part of the body of Christ as if it were really the crystalline
lens of His very eyes, and that He is as sensitive to the approach of anything that
could harm us as you would be to the intrusion of a floating mote or grain of dust
to your sensitive eye before you can even think or pray.

“God is the refuge of His saints,
When storms of sharp distress invade,
Ere we can utter our complaint.
Behold Him present with His aid.”

3. He will keep us in His pavilion.
“Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence from the pride of man:
Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues”
(Ps. xxxi. 20). It does not take Him long to erect that pavilion in the
most solitary place and hide His children safely within its curtains.
The story is told of a Scottish assembly of faithful worshippers in one of the glens
of the fatherland in the clays when the cruel Claverhouse was hunting for the
blood of the saints. Suddenly the cry was made from the sentinel watching on a
neighboring cliff that soldiers were coming, and the little company had been
discovered. Escape was impossible, and they just knelt down and prayed,
claiming this precious psalm, “Thou shalt hide them in Thy pavilion.”
Immediately there began to gather among the hills a thick Scotch mist, and
everything was enveloped as in a curtain. Their enemies were baffled, and they
quietly and securely escaped through the familiar pathways of the mountains. God
had hidden them securely in His pavilion. We may not have the same bloody foe
as the Scottish Covenanters, but the strife of tongues is here with sharper swords
and more cruel hate. Oh, how often we find the psalmist calling out against the
envenomed words of men, “What shall be given unto thee? Or what shall be done
unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper”
(Ps. cxx. 3, 4). But He can shield us even from these and give us a blessing for
every bitter blast from human calumny. “Let him curse,” said David when they
tried to quiet old Shimei, who was abusing the king in the hour of his sorrow; “it
may be the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.” Wherefore let
them that suffer from the strife of tongues “commit themselves to Him in well
doing as unto a faithful Creator.”

.
He will keep us in perfect peace.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose
mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee” (Isa. xxvi. 3). Literally this
reads, “Peace, peace.” It is the double peace
with
God and
of
God. It is the Old
Testament original of the Apostle’s still more beautiful promise in the fourth
chapter of Philippians, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And
the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and
minds through Christ Jesus.” In both verses it is the same peace which is referred
to, that deep, divine rest which Christ puts into the heart where He comes to
dwell. It is the peace of God, and it passeth all understanding. It is not the result of
reasoning or sight; it is not because things have changed, and we can see the
deliverance coming. It comes when all is dark and strange, and we have nothing
but His bare word. The Assyrian was at the gates of Jerusalem, and there seemed
no possible escape when the voice of the prophet said, “Be strong and of a good
courage, fear not, neither be dismayed; for they that be with you be more than
they that be with him. With us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our
battles.” And then it is added, “The people rested themselves.” The Assyrian was
still there, and the danger was just as imminent, but there came upon them an
unreasoning and supernatural confidence, for God had undertaken their defense.
We know the sequel. How easy it was for Jehovah by the touch of a single angel’s
hand to lay those mighty hosts silent in the dust! So God’s peace comes not by
sight, but by faith. Its conditions are, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose
mind is stayed on thee, because he trusted in thee.”

Someone tells of two competing paintings of peace for which a great prize was
offered. One was a beautiful and tranquil scene, a woodland valley with a gentle
streamlet softly winding through grassy banks. There were warbling birds, and
happy, playing children with the flocks lying down in green pastures, and earth
and heaven were at rest. The other, and the picture that won the prize, was a
raging sea, flinging high its billows and its foam around a naked rock, with a ship
in the distance, driving before the hurricane with every sail furled, and the
seabirds whirling through the leaden clouds in wild confusion-anything but peace.
But far up in a cleft of that naked rock, above the surf and sheltered from the
storm, there was a dove’s nest with the mother quietly spreading her soft wings
above her young in perfect peace.

When is the time to trust?
Is it when all is calm?
When waves the victor’s palm
And life is one great psalm
Of peace and rest?
No! But the time to trust
Is when the waves beat high,
And storm clouds sweep the sky,
And faith can only cry,
Lord help and save.

The beautiful figure of the text in Philippians is that of a garrison, the peace of
God which garrisons the heart and mind. The need of the garrison here is not
because of outside, but inside foes. Nothing can harm us from the outside if we
are kept in God’s perfect peace. Notice also that there are two sections of this
citadel that have to be garrisoned and guarded. One is the heart, the seat of doubts,
and fears, and cares. The other is the mind where our thoughts become the sources
of unrest, and we wonder, and worry, and look forward and back, and look
everywhere, but to God. The peace of God can quiet all our thinking and hold us
in stillness and sweetly say to us,

Cease your thinking, troubled Christian,
What avail your anxious cares?
God is ever thinking for you;
Jesus ev’ry burden bears.
Casting all your care upon Him,
Sink into His blessed will
While He folds you to His bosom,
Sweetly whisp’ring, “Peace, be still.”

5. He will keep us by His power. This is the meaning of our second text, “Garrisoned
by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” It is a very fine passage. The
apostle has just told us that the inheritance is kept for us up yonder. Now he tells
us we are kept for the inheritance. The inheritance is reserved for you, and you are
preserved for the inheritance. But while the figure of the garrison is the same as in
Philippians, yet it is a different garrison. There it was peace, now it is power. The
garrison of peace is to preserve the city from internal foes; the garrison of power
is to protect it from its outward enemies. The one garrison polices the streets; the
other mans the walls. And it adds to the force of the figure to note that the word
power here in the Greek is dynamite. The garrison is armed with heavenly
artillery. When first the English troops under Lord Kitchener met the vast armies
of the Mahdi, the conquering leader of the fanatical hordes of the Soudan, who
outnumbered them ten to one, they protected their camp by modern artillery while
the Africans came against them with the old-fashioned muskets and rifles. A
hundred thousand strong, that vast array hurled itself upon the little company of
English soldiers and marched to the assault with flying banners, galloping horses,
and splendid enthusiasm. The historian graphically tells how quietly and
confidently the English waited the onset, for they knew that they had power in
their midst before which those legions could not for a moment stand. Suddenly
the Maxim guns began their terrific rattle and like a hailstorm from the heavens a
rain of bullets and shells was poured upon that black host, and they melted like
snow before a summer sun. It was dynamite against mere human courage. God
has garrisoned us with heavenly dynamite, the power of the Holy Ghost, and, like
the English soldiers, we must have confidence in it, for we are kept by the
dynamite of God through faith. We must count upon His mighty strength and ever
go forth with the battle cry, “Thanks be unto God that always leadeth us in
triumph.”

6. He is able to keep us in the world and from the evil. This was the Master’s prayer
for His disciples. In John xvii. 15, we read, “I pray not that thou shouldest take
them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Here is a
double keeping. Kept from death and sickness and anything that could take us out
of the world, and yet kept from the evil of the world and especially the evil one.
This is a portentous phrase in the original, tou ponero, the Evil One. This is no
abstract evil, but a great personal Devil, the adversary “who walketh about like a
roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” But the Lord’s power and the Lord’s
keeping stand between us and his devouring jaws. He is a conquered foe, and we
are to treat him as such and to go forth against him with the prestige of a victor in
the name of his Conqueror, the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes he assails us by his
wiles and sometimes by his fiery darts, but with the shield of faith we shall be
able to stand against and quench them both. We must not be too frightened of the
devil. Some people get so afraid of him that they almost fear to let the Lord have
right away in His own meetings. The dread of fanaticism, it is to be feared, has
kept a good many well meaning people from the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Let
us boldly come and take all God has for us and trust Him to keep the counterfeit
away, for if we ask bread, He is not going to give us a stone, and if we ask fish
and really want what He wants, He will not let us have a serpent. In the name of
Jesus and through His precious blood, we shall be safe and kept from the evil one.

7. He is able to keep us from stumbling. Jude says, “Now unto him that is able to
keep us from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory
with exceeding joy.” The English translation is inadequate. The word falling
means stumbling. Of course, He is able to keep us from being lost, and too many
Christians are content to just get through, if it be by the skin of their teeth. That is
a poor, ignoble ambition. He is able to keep you even from stumbling and to
present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. If He is
able to keep you for one second, He can keep you for thirty-three million seconds,
which means one whole year, and as much longer as you keep trusting Him
moment by moment. Will you rise to a higher ambition and take Him to keep you
even from slipping, and tripping, and stumbling?

8. He is able to keep you from the touch of the adversary. There is a fine promise in
the last chapter of I. John. “He that was begotten of God keepeth him, and that
wicked one toucheth him not.” This is a different reading from the ordinary
version, but it is very blessed to say, the only begotten Son keepeth the saint that
trusts Him and so keepeth him that that wicked one toucheth him not. It is the old
familiar picture of the fly on one side of the window and the bird on the other.
The bird dashes for its prey and thinks it has it. The fly shudders and thinks so
too, but there is a dash, and a thud, and some flustered feathers, and a badly
frightened bird, but the fly is still there, wondering how it all did not happen. But
to you and me the secret is all plain, there was something between which the bird
did not see and the fly forgot. Thank God, when the devil makes his fiercest dives,
there is something between. He has to get through Jesus Christ to get you; and if
you only abide in simple confidence, the devil will get a good deal more hurt than
you.

9. He is able to keep His servants and ministers. Listen. “I the Lord have called thee
in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a
covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles “(Isa. xlii. 6). This blessed
promise belongs primarily to the Lord Jesus, but secondarily to every other true
servant of Jehovah who is abiding in Him and working for Him. God holds His
ministers in His right hand and says, “Touch not mine anointed and do my
prophets no harm.” He is a very reckless man that lightly speaks or acts against
any true servant of the Lord. Be careful how you criticize the Master’s servants.
Listen. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he
standeth or falleth, for God is able to make him stand.” “Who art thou that judgest
another?” If you are serving Christ with a true heart, my brother, be not afraid. He
whom the Father beholds will hold thy right hand, and keep thee, and say to thee,
“Fear not, I will give men for thee and people for thy life.” “I will work and who
shall let it?” God will keep thee and say to thee, “I have covered thee in the
shadow of Mine hand that thou mayest plant the heavens, and lay the foundations
of the earth and say to Zion, Thou art my people.” A single soldier of the cross
standing for Jesus and trusting in Him is mightier than legions of powerful foes.
Trust Him though dangers and foes surround thee and friends may often be few,
the heavens will fall and earth be dissolved before He can fail one of His trusting
servants.

10.He will keep His cause, His Church, His vineyard. “Sing ye unto her, A vineyard
of red wine. I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I
will keep it night and day.” Isa. xxvii. 2-3. We sometimes seem to get the idea
that we are the keepers of God’s cause, and that he has forgotten all about it, and
we have to shout and cry to get Him to help us look after His own property. Why,
dear friends, the Lord is looking after you and the cause too. “I, the Lord, do keep
it, lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” No doubt there are dangers, trials,
adversaries, but there is one thing more, the Lord. And two little words are
stronger than all the D’s in the dictionary, whether they be difficulty,
discouragement, division, declension, the devil, or the D.Ds.- and these two words
are BUT GOD. There is a fine prophetic picture in the opening of Zechariah
which was written to comfort people in troublous times. First the prophet saw four
horns, coming from all directions, sharp, cruel, powerful horns, pushing and
piercing everything before them. If he looked north, there was a horn there, and
south, there was another there, and they were soon to meet and he would find
himself between the two. If he looked east, there was a horn there, and west, there
was another there, and they were meeting in his unprotected breast. Then the
scene changed, and he looked and saw four carpenters coming in the same
direction, and each of them had a lot of tools-a good stout ax, and a sharp saw,
and no doubt a heavy maul- and soon could be heard the sound of blows of axes
and the buzzing of saws, and lo, the horns had lost their points and were pounded
to a jelly and were soft cushions that could not hurt anything. Beloved, God has a
carpenter for every horn and if the work you are doing is His work, the gates of
hell cannot prevail against it

11. He is able to keep everything that is committed to Him. “I know whom I have
believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed
unto him against that day” (II. Tim. 1:12). The great question for you and me is,
how much have we really committed?

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