Able to keep
Gordon L. Bissett, Penarth, Cardiff, Wales
‘Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen’, Jude vv. 24-25. What a delightful doxology! What peace it breathes, after the heat of divine indignation expressed in the preceding verses, against wicked men who had somehow infiltrated the church! We love these verses! Yet, as we read the opening phrase, ‘able to keep you from falling’, alarm bells ring in the mind. ‘What, me, stumbled by the influence of such wicked men? Never!’
But we need to remember the warning given by the apostle Paul, ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall’, 1. Cor. 10. 12. This warning follows the verses that tell of the things that decimated Israel after their triumphant exodus from Egypt: lust, v. 6; idolatry, v. 7; fornication, v. 8; tempting Christ, v. 9; murmuring, v. 10. These things rose out of the sinful hearts of a rescued people; but in Jude’s epistle those wicked men had invaded the church from outside, like the filthy flood waters that swept recently from the street into people’s homes in New Orleans and ruined everything. Jude warns His readers against such men in devastating terms, vv. 12-13, and in verses 20- 21, he points the believers to a sure ground, ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God‘, and then comes the precious assurance, verse 24, ‘he is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless’.
’Blessed assurance’ indeed, but faultless? A lady takes to the auctioneer a vase, an heirloom, precious in her sight. The auctioneer examines it, and points out a little chip there, a hair-line crack here, a small patch of amateur repair, and the owner of the vase sees her vision of cash-value going down and down. I look at my Christian life, and the word of God awakens me to a failure here, a sin commited there. How could I possibly appear before my Lord ‘faultless’? But then the word reassures me; I do not have to perfect myself! The Lord Himself in His amazing love and transforming grace will present me in that great day, ‘holy and without blemish’, Eph. 5. 27, and this before ‘the presence of his glory’.
When the glory of the Lord appeared on Mount Sinai, the people were terrified. When the Shekinah glory filled the tabernacle, the priests fled from its intolerable light. But the apostle John, speaking of our Lord Jesus, could say, ‘We beheld his glory’, John 1. 14, and Paul tells us that, ‘God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’. In that coming day when we see the fullness of that glory, it will be the light of home to us, and in its radiance we shall experience what the best things of this earthly life could never bestow, we shall have ‘exceeding joy’, the joy of being like Him! 1. John 3. 2. As one of J. N. DARBY’s hymns delightfully expresses it:
And is it so? I shall be like Thy Son!
Is this the grace which He for me has won?
Father of glory!
Thought beyond all thought,
In glory to His own blest likeness brought!
For who is this who thus
perfects His people by His
It is ‘God our Saviour’.
His perfect wisdom, displayed in the measureless wonder of creation, will be displayed again in the perfection of His new creation. The inspired writer bursts into an exclamation calling grateful hearts to ascribe to Him, glory and majesty, dominion and power. We do not enhance these divine attributes by gladly proclaiming our belief in them, but how the heart rejoices as we reflect on the glory of His saving grace, Eph. 1. 6, the majesty of the great King, Ps. 47. 2, the righteous dominion of the One whose kingdom ruleth over all, Ps. 103. 19, the power that by a word called countless universes into instant being, Ps. 33. 6, 9, and that raised up our Lord Jesus from the dead, Eph. 1. 19, 20.
This is our God, God our Saviour, and ‘He is able to keep you from falling’.