GOD BEING THE ONE WHO KEEPS US
I am not saying that we should forget about the difficult passages in the Bible. We will address those passages in the next message. But there are many positive things which are undeniable. Not only do we have the prayer of the Lord Jesus and the functioning of the Lord Jesus as our High Priest; the Bible records many other items besides. Our salvation does not depend merely on our believing, but it also depends on the keeping power of God. It is not we who are keeping ourselves, but the power of God that is keeping us. We are kept by the same condition that enabled us to be saved. The condition for receiving is the condition for keeping. It is impossible to have one condition for receiving and another condition for keeping. By grace we received God’s salvation; by grace we also enjoy God’s preservation. If we say that salvation is by grace but preservation is by works, we have never read the book of Galatians.
We have studied the books of Romans and Galatians many times. Romans talks specifically about sinners; Galatians talks specifically about believers. Romans says that man cannot be justified by works, and Galatians says that man cannot keep his justification by works. Romans tells us that sinners cannot trust in works; Galatians tells us that believers cannot trust in works. Romans tells us that the sinners’ justification before God has nothing to do with the law and works; Galatians tells us that the believers’ preservation by grace likewise has nothing to do with the law. Having begun by the Spirit, should we be perfected by the flesh? Having begun by faith, should we be perfected by the law? Hence, Romans is for unbelievers and speaks from the angle of unbelievers. Galatians is for believers and speaks from the angle of believers. If the receiving of grace before God is free, the keeping of salvation before God must also be free. The Bible shows us quite clearly that it is God rather than we ourselves who keeps us.
First Peter 1:5 says, "Who are being guarded by the power of God through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time." The last step of salvation is redemption at the coming of the Lord Jesus. Salvation can be divided into three stages. The salvation spoken of here refers to our redemption at the coming again of the Lord Jesus. Through faith we are being guarded by the power of God unto redemption. Are we the ones who hold fast to God, or is God the One who holds fast to us? Is it we who keep ourselves, or are we kept by God? The Bible says that it is God who keeps us. The guarding by the power of God implies that if I were to become lost, the responsibility would not be mine, but God’s. I speak reverently, that if we were to be lost, more responsibility would fall on God than on us. However, we should not have any thought at all that Christians can be loose. We will talk about this issue in the next few messages. The problem today is salvation. Salvation is altogether something to do with God.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 16, by Watchman Nee)