For this Wednesday we will return to our word feature, in part because I wanted to call attention to something from the June 2015 issue the Standard Bearer. For that issue, Rev.W. (Bill) Langerak has written his latest installment for the rubric “A Word Fitly Spoken.” And this time he has focused on the significant biblical word “keep.”
Below is that article in its entirety. For more on the content of the June 1 “SB”, see the cover image at the end of this post. For information on subscribing to this excellent Reformed magazine, visit the “SB” link above.
“Keep” is a biblical word that teaches both the preservation and perseverance of the saints. Preservation of saints is God’s keeping them; perseverance of saints is their keeping God’s law by His keeping them. Basically, “keep” means to exert careful attention (thus, to heed, obey, and observe), so that something precious and pure is guarded and protected from being defiled and destroyed by some evil power. And with regard to keeping, Scripture teaches six grand truths.
First: Our main calling is to keep. Adam’s duty was to keep the garden. That also implied evil was afoot; angels who kept not their first estate intended to destroy the place (Gen. 2:15; Jude 1:6). When Adam failed, other angels had to keep it (Gen. 3:24). Keeping was the earthly vocation of many Old Testament saints. Cain wouldn’t keep his brother, but Abel kept sheep (Gen. 4:4). So did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. Kings were called to keep the kingdom, priests the tabernacle, and prophets the Word (I Sam. 13:13; Num. 1:53; Rev. 22:9). So we are also keepers.
Second: The essential thing we must keep is God’s Word. The whole duty of man is to keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13). The frequent Word to Israel was to keep His statutes, judgments, and laws (Lev. 18:5). Their calling was to keep the covenant, the service, the feasts, and the Sabbath of the Lord (Gen. 17:9; Ex. 12:25); keep their soul, mouths, and hands from evil (Ps. 39:1; Is. 56:2); keep knowledge, truth, righteousness, and wisdom (Is. 26:2; Mal. 2:7; Prov. 2:20). And this does not change in the New Testament. God still calls us to keep His Scripture, the faith and ordinances delivered to us by the apostles (Luke 8:15; I Tim. 6:20; I Cor. 11:2); to keep ourselves pure, in the love of God, unspotted from the world, and from idols (I Tim. 5:22; James 1:27; I John 5:21); and to keep our garments, the unity of the Spirit, and our hearts though Jesus (Rev. 16:15; Eph. 4:3).
Third: Keeping God’s Word is the only and necessary way of blessedness and life. There is no other way. Blessed are they that hear the Word and keep it (Luke 11:28). In keeping God’s law there is great reward and it goes well with us forever (Ps. 19:11; Deut. 4:40). Whoever keeps Jesus’ sayings shall not see death, and whoever keeps His commandments dwells in God and God in Him (I John 3:24; 8:51). But cursed are those who keep it not; they will be cut off, perish, die, and be cast away from God forever (Deut. 28:25; I Chr. 28:9; Rev. 22:19).
Fourth: No man has kept God’s Word. Except Jesus. He kept the commandments of God (John 15:10). But not Israel. They kept not His covenant, judgments, ways, temple, feasts, or Sabbath (Ezek. 20:21). Neither their wisest kings, princes, priests, or fathers kept His law (I Kings 11:10; Ezek. 44:8; Neh. 9:34). Nor do we. For if we keep the whole law but offend at one point, we are guilty of all (James 2:10). If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar (I John 1:10).
Fifth: And yet…saints do keep the Word of God. Scripture says Abraham kept the law and covenant of God (Gen. 26:5). So did Job (23:11), David, and others (Ps. 18:21). So do we. For if a man loves Jesus, He will keep His Word (John 14:15, 23).
Sixth: Saints not keeping, but keeping God’s Word is no contradiction. Nor is preservation (our keeping) and perseverance (God’s keeping) of the saints. First, because God is our keeper (Ps. 121:5). It is the Lord who keeps our soul, keeps us alive, keeps His truth, and keeps us from presumptuous sins, falling, the wicked, snares, and evil (Ps. 17:8; 19:13; 25:20; 41:2; 140:4; 141:9). Abraham kept God’s law because God kept Abraham (Gen. 28:15). Israel kept God’s way because His Angel kept that way (Ex. 23:20). We keep His covenant only because He keeps His covenant to us (Deut. 7:8-9). Secondly, because all keeping of God’s Word is by faith. Faith now, not in one’s merit, power, or ability, but in Jesus the original Shepherd, who kept the law for us, keeps those given to Him, and keeps God’s covenant forever (Jer. 31:10; John 17:11; Ps. 89:29). Indeed, we both keep and are kept by the power of God through faith that commits the keeping of our souls to Him by the Spirit dwelling within us (II Tim. 1:14; I Pet. 1:5).