Preserved in Christ
One of my favorite pastimes is playing word games. When I purchased my Kindle reader I discovered several new word games that I thoroughly enjoy playing when I have a few extra minutes. Unfortunately, I have been guilty of frantically trying to beat the timer on Every Word while also doing other things such as talking on the telephone. Although I have been discovered and appropriately called out for this indiscretion, I still have trouble resisting the pull of a good word game.
Recently, I discovered an interesting word in a verse of Scripture that got my attention, much like the draw of a good word game. This word was found in the book of Jude. Jude wrote this letter to those who are “called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ” (verse 1). He warned believers of the dangers of false teachers and apostates who had turned away from the teachings of Christ. He urged believers to stay true and “to contend earnestly for the faith.” (verse 3). Lastly, he encouraged them: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (verses 20-21).
The word that got my attention was the word preserved. I know what the word “preserve” means. I grew up helping my Mama who worked tirelessly “putting up” (as she would say) beans, corn, tomatoes, and other vegetables. She would can, freeze, and preserve fresh garden vegetables for our enjoyment in the winter. But what does it mean to be preserved in Jesus Christ?
I looked up the verse in other translations to see if any different words were used. Several translations (ESV, NIV, NASB, HCSB, i.e.) translated the phrase “kept for (by) Jesus.” I then looked up the definition of preserve and discovered words like “protect,” “maintain,” “uphold,” “sustain,” “cared for,” “kept safe,” “look after,” and “perpetuate.” As I substituted these words in the phrase “preserved in Jesus Christ,” the meaning of this phrase began to overwhelm me.
- I am kept for/by Jesus Christ.
- I am protected for/by Jesus Christ.
- I am maintained for/by Jesus Christ.
- I am sustained for/by Jesus Christ.
- I am cared for for/by Jesus Christ.
- I am kept safe for/by Jesus Christ.
- I am looked after for/by Jesus Christ.
- I am perpetuated for/by Jesus Christ.
My friends, in our world today, there are many who have turned away from the truth of Jesus Christ just as in the time Jude wrote his letter. However, Jude’s letter is not written to those who have fallen away, but to those who are “called, sanctified, and preserved.” One of the greatest encouragements we can have as we live in the midst of a fallen world is the reminder of what Christ has done and is doing for us, of who we are in Christ. Because of Christ, no matter what troubles or persecutions we face, He has already secured the victory for all who place their faith and trust in Him. Peter echoed this promise: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5). We are kept; we are preserved in Christ!
Jude also reminds us of another facet of the way God preserves believers. “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” (verse 24). God not only keeps us secure as we wait for Christ’s return, He also is able to keep us from falling. He works to teach us, grow us, make us more and more like Jesus. And as Paul told the Philippians: “…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Just think of how confidently, we who are called, sanctified, and preserved in Christ can live, knowing that we are being kept by Him, both today and for eternity. This doesn’t mean I won’t have difficulties and trials in this world, but I have something that cannot be taken away. Jesus Christ has secured my inheritance and He keeps me by His power. I am preserved in Jesus Christ – forever! How I love that word!