Keeping and Being Kept
One of my all-time favorite scriptures is Jude 24-25: "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen."
When it says "faultless," don't get that wrong. It doesn't say you are faultless, but that He is able to present you that way, by the work of Jesus Christ. And it will be "with exceeding joy," not with trembling. It's not a case of "Boy, I hope I'm going to make it! I hope God doesn't flash on some celestial screen the time I stole bubble gum from the store when I was five years old!"
Note, there's a balance here. Verse 21 says, "Keep yourselves in the love of God" and verse 24 says, "He is able to keep you from stumbling." You might say, "That sounds contradictory." No, it's not. Here's the truth, and the balance: He is able to keep you, but you have to be willing to be kept. If you're not willing to be kept, if you're not willing to cooperate, you're not going to be kept. If you want to stumble, you'll stumble! God has given you a free will. If you want to, you can continually disobey, and fall flat on your face, and have to get picked up again, and get brushed off, and get forgiven again ... Hey, that's no way to live, and certainly no way to grow! But if you want to be kept, He'll keep you.
2 Peter 1 says God has given us power and promises, and it says that "giving all diligence" (which means put every ounce of effort you can into it), we are to add virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to our faith (see vv. 2-7).
That doesn't mean that you are saved by works, but that you grow by cooperating with God. If you want to continue to grow and continue a close walk with Him, you've got to do something. (And it also doesn't mean you can be "more" saved or "less" saved.)
"For if these things are yours and abound," (literally, overflow) "you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble" (vv. 8-10).
He can keep you, but you have to want to be kept! He has given you all the power, all the promises, all the provision. You have to cooperate by diligently adding to your faith.
So "keep yourself in the love of God." Pray in the Spirit, build yourself up in the most holy faith. Get into the word. Continue to pray, and to fellowship. And if you want to be kept, you will. He is able to keep you and to present you before God ... faultless!
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