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  • CHARLES SPURGEON'S WRITINGS -
    XIV. HELD AND KEPT.


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    Nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. — (2 Timothy 1:12.) An interpretation has been put upon this passage which I think is not its meaning, but still, it may be. Paul had been speaking to Timothy of the trust which had been committed to him, namely, the preaching of the Gospel, and the word here used might be rendered, “I know that He is able to keep my deposit.” The Gospel was a deposit put into the hands of Paul.

    He was very careful of it, and anxious about it. Just then he was persecuted, and was likely to die. All the fury of the Roman Emperor was put forth to crush Christianity; but Paul said,” I know that Christ is able to keep my’ deposit; He is able to keep that Gospel which He has committed to my charge. I shall not labor in vain. Though I be cut off, others will be raised up to continue the good work. Christ’s cause is safe enough in His own hands, for He is able to preserve it, and He will.”

    Now, we certainly have the same consolation at all times. We meet with persons who say that Popery is coming back, and that there are coming all sorts of evil days. Well, I ‘believe that Christ is able to keep His own Gospel alive in the world; that He is stronger than Satan, and that the victory is not doubtful. The day shall surely come when, in spite of the efforts of adversaries of truth, King Jesus shall reign throughout the earth.

    Let us banish our dark suspicions and be of good courage.

    Still, I do think that that is a far-fetched meaning, and that it would not strike a reader. It seems to me that the Bible was intended for common people’s reading, and that its meaning lies generally upon the surface, except where the truth taught is exceedingly deep and mysterious. Would it not occur to anybody reading this that Paul meant that he ‘himself, his body and soul, had been committed by himself in faith to the hands of Christ, and that he felt quite safe there; that, whatever occurred, Jesus was able to keep him until that day. Well, we will take that as the meaning, and we shall notice in our text, first, what the apostle had done: he-had committed his soul to the keeping of Christ; and then, secondly, what he knew — -he knew whom he had believed; and then, thirdly, what he was sure of — that Christ was able to, keep him, and, fourthly, what, therefore, he was — he was, not ashamed.

    I. First, what Paul had done. He had committed himself to the keeping of Christ. He felt that his soul was very precious. Do you all feel that? Do we, any of us, feel the preciousness of our immortal natures as we should? Are we not too often asking, “What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed ?” as if spirits whose existence is coeval with that of God, that shall live throughout eternity, were to make these the main inquiries, eating and drinking and clothing. I am afraid we do not, any of us, value our souls as we should. Still, if by grace we’ have been taught as Paul was, we do value them: we want to see them in safe keeping. But Paul knew that his soul was in danger, He perceived the evil within him and the temptations outside of him. Do we feel that as we should? Are we aware of our many dangers? Some men act as if they were not in an enemy’s country at all, but as if the temptations of the world which would destroy them were really their friends, as if’ sin were no injury, and to bring upon one’s self the anger of God were no peril whatever. Paul, however, saw that his spirit was in danger, and, valuing it much, he desired to see it safely housed. He felt also that he could not keep it. Alas! how many think they can. Where the apostle trembled, there are some that will presume. They feel as if they could well enough preserve themselves without divine help; but ah! it is not so. Left alone, the priceless treasure of our soul wilt assuredly be lost: it will become the prey of Satan.

    How shall a man be able to preserve his own soul? Paul, knowing all this, had, therefore, gone and committed his soul as a. sacred deposit into the sure keeping of the Lord Jesus Christ the Savior.

    This is the great act of faith. This is what some of us did — what all of us did when we were first brought to Christ. We had done henceforth with trusting in ourselves, and we trusted in Him. And this is what we are doing every day, if we are believers. I love every morning to put myself again into the dear hands of the Crucified with all that concerns me and all that belongs to me, for when I feel that everything is there, this church there, and all the work of God there, then I feel it is safe. But ‘tis ill to live an hour as your own keeper, or to have anything that you are to keep yourself. It is sweet and blessed and happy living when you have left everything in the hand of Christ Jesus, and are, therefore, free to serve Him, and joyfully to go about doing His will. I suppose, if Paul had to explain what he meant, he would tell us that he left himself in Christ’s hands, as a sick man leaves himself in the hands of the physician. “There,” saith he, “my disease is grievous, and I do not understand it, but, good Master, Thou hast much skill in anatomy and also in medicine: do as Thou wilt with me.” This is what a Christian has done — he has left himself as a sick soul in the hands of the Good Physician.

    Then, mark you, he takes the Good Physician’s medicine. Some divorce faith from works in such a way that it is not faith at all. For if I trust a physician I take his medicine, I follow his prescriptions. My soul is left with Christ as a physician, and I desire, therefore, to do what He bids me. Our soul will be healed assuredly if we are really thus trusting to the Great Physician’s care.

    Paul meant that he trusted himself again as one trusts all his needs in the hands of another — as the sheep trusts itself with the shepherd. It is not the sheep’s business to provide for itself; the shepherd does that. So do we. If we are as we should be, we are trusting ourselves as to all our soups needs in the hands of Jesus. He is our shepherd, and we shall not want. But you know the sheep follow the shepherd whithersoever he goeth. They keep at his heels. And so must we (if our faith be true and real) keep close to the dear Redeemer and follow where He leads the way. If we have not truly committed ourselves to His keeping; if we pick and choose our own pathway and run hither and thither, we are self-willed, but if we have indeed the desire to follow closely where He guides us we have committed ourselves to Him as to a shepherd.

    Then Paul had committed himself to Jesus as a captain commits his vessel to a pilot. “This is a new river to me,” says he. “I have never traversed it.

    There are shoals and narrow channels. Pilot, thou knowest the way up to the city. Take the helm and steer my vessel safely.” So amidst the shoals and quicksands of this mortal life we know not our way, but we leave ourselves in our great Pilot’s hands — the Pilot of the Lake of Galilee, the Lord High Admiral of the Seas, with whom there were many other ships in the day of storm. He guides us and leads the way. Then in trusting Him we do His bidding — reef sail and do whatsoever He commands us; and we are not truly trusting if we are not also obedient in the trust.

    And, brethren, we have committed ourselves to Jesus in the same way as a person who has a case in law commits himself to his advocate. If he be a wise man and hath a good advocate he never interferes. You have heard, I know, the story of Erskine. When he was pleading for a man upon a capital charge, the man wrote upon a piece of paper — “ I’ll be hanged if I don’t plead for myself,” and Erskine simply wrote upon the paper, “You’ll be hanged if you do.” This is much the case with us. Jesus Christ pleads for us and, if we think we can plead for ourselves, we shall lose our souls, but if we leave Him to speak for us, He knows how to baffle all the devices of Satan. The Lord that hath redeemed us will rebuke our adversary, and we shall come clearly out of every suit before the bar of God, if we leave our souls in the hands of Christ Jesus.

    We have also left ourselves there as a defenseless nation may leave itself in the guardian care of a great captain and his soldiery. We cannot resist our spiritual foes. If we go out against them, we shall be as stubble to the flame. Our shield is God’s anointed, and the breaker is gone up before us.

    He clears the way and smites our foes hip and thigh with a great slaughter, and though they come against us like a flood, His blood-stained hand uplifts the cross and backward they fall before Him. For who can stand against the Christ of God? Committing our souls, then, to His keeping as the defenseless to the care of the guardian, the great act of faith is done.

    But then the defenseless abide in their city. They are obedient to those who protect them. And such must our faith be if it be at all the faith of the Apostle Paul.

    I should like to ask of all my audience to-night — as I have already asked of my own heart — each one, “Have you trusted your soul in the hands of Jesus? Have you committed it to Him to keep as a sacred deposit ?” If you have not, I pray that you may do it this night, ere your eyes be closed in sleep. But if you have done so, do it again and continue still to do it. You will, if you have done so before, have learnt already how sweet a thing it is.

    Do it again, and trust your Lord with all that has to do with you. Cast your burden upon Him — your little burdens as well as your great ones. Commit all your wants and all your cares, for time as well as for eternity; commit your body and your soul, your children and your goods and all that you have into the same hands; for where your treasure is there your heart will be. If you will trust all with Christ, you will love Christ better than all, and all you love you will love because He keeps all for you. You will, if you be rich, find Christ in all, and if you be poor you will find all in Christ, and the difference is not much. Only commit all to that dear, faithful hand. This is what the Apostle did.

    II. Now, the second thing is what the Apostle knew. “I know,” said he, “whom I have believed.” How often we hear Scripture misquoted! For instance, we hear persons say, “I know in whom I have believed.” That is not Scripture. What do you want to put in that little word “in” for? It is “I know whom I have believed”; and there is a difference there. It is not to know that we trust in Christ, but to know Christ Himself. That is the great thing. Paul did not trust in an unknown Savior. He knew the Christ he trusted in; He was a personal acquaintance of his. Do we know Christ? For you may say you trust Christ, but that is not the faith that will save. It is really trusting; it is trusting in Him as one you know to be real — a real Christ, a real Savior. How did Paul know Christ? He knew Him, first, because Christ had met with him on the way to Damascus. Christ has never met with us precisely in that way and spoken to us out of Heaven, but there was a time when He met us. Dost mind the place, the spot of ground Where Jesus did thee meet ?

    Yes, peradventure, you know it well to-night. You remember when first He unveiled His lovely face, and you saw lines of love in that dear countenance.

    Paul knew the Savior, next, because no doubt he had gathered all he could about Him .; he had intimate acquaintance with Luke; he had the means of knowing — did know — Mark, and no doubt he spoke with Matthew; and with John he was familiar. Though Paul had not been with our Lord in the days of His flesh, yet he treasured up all the incidents which he might have heard from others; and with such as might have written in his day he was no doubt familiar. Well, even in this way, we know whom we have believed. I hope you are close students of God’s Word, beloved, if you have trusted Christ. Try and know all you can about Him Whom you trust.

    You must trust Christ because He is revealed in Scripture; but, the more you know Him, the more easy it will be for you to trust Him. The employment of a Christian should be to make his acquaintance with Christ more full. Knowing something of Him, he should every, day add something to what he knows, till he can with greater emphasis say, “! know whom I have believed.”

    For Paul knew the Lord, next, by personal communion with Him. Many and many a time had the Lord spoken with Paul. In his secret chamber, in prayer, Paul had risen up to the heights of communion with Jesus. In sacred praise and rapt devotion I have no doubt that of times the Apostle felt that whether in the body he could not tell or whether out of the body, for Jesus Christ had revealed Himself so fully to him.

    Dear Christian brethren, I am afraid we do not give time enough for communion with Christ in these days. Our Puritan forefathers had their hours of devotion every day. We are so busy now — so very busy ! Is it not a busy sort of idleness that neglects the Savior? We are getting rich, perhaps; but is that a true richness which does not make us rich towards God? We seem to know everybody now-a-days but Christ. And there are some Christians that I wot of who know doctrines but do not seem to know Christ. They can a hair divide between the west and north-west side in theology, but yet in their spirit they seem as if they had no love, and, therefore, do not, cannot know Him. And some there are that know biographies, and know about the various sects of the Church, and know the history of the Church, and know I know not what besides. But the main thing is to know Him. It were a life-long study to gaze upon His blessed person, and to know Him as God the Man, to know Him from head to foot, from glory to shame, to know Him in Bethlehem, and to know Him on Calvary, to know Him in glory and to know Him in His second advent.

    This is the sciences of sciences, the highest of all attainments. Would God we stuck to this. The Christian should make Christ his classics, Christ his crowning study. Christ should be the very soul of poetry, the very essence of philosophy — to know Him. How can this be except we have more fellowship with Him?

    The Apostle knew Christ, moreover, by experience. He had tried Him and had tested Him, and there is nothing like this. “I know whom I believe. I remember,” the Apostle might have said, “when I was in the deeps and the ship was near being wrecked. I know how the Lord stood by me in the chill midnight. I know Him: He forsook me not. I know how He cheered my heart on the way to Rome when He sent the brethren to meet me at Appii Forum. I know He stood by me when I faced the lion-like emperor, and how I was able’ to speak the right word, and so my life was then preserved.” Such a one as Paul the aged shivering in his loathsome dungeon, yet with his heart warm with love to his Master, writing his epistle and bowing his knee every now and then unto the God and Father of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, feeling that his dungeon glowed till it was infinitely brighter than the golden house of Nero with the glory of the Crucified — he knew his Master; he knew He was a firm friend, knew He kept His word, knew that that sweet word,” Lo ! I am with you always, even to the end of the world,” was fulfilled, and therefore he said, “I know Whom I have believed.”

    Now I speak to a great many that have believed in Christ. I hope the most of you have; but do you know Him? Do you know Him? It is not necessary when you trust your money to a banker that you should know the banker.

    If he is a man of good repute, it does not matter about personal knowledge, though I daresay, if you knew him personally, you would feel all the more confidence. But in the matter of Christ Jesus an unknown Savior is to a great extent a doubting Savior. Your faith will lack force, it will be sure to become weak, unless ignorance be chased away and you know your Lord. “I know Whom I have believed.” Do seek to know Him; and may this table to-night help you to know Him better. When we eat of the bread and drink of the cup, may those instructive emblems bring Jesus near to us, and may we know Him even better than we have known Him at the best before.

    III. And now, thirdly — here is the point — what the Apostle was sure of. He was sure that Christ was able to keep that which he had committed to Him.

    And I suppose Apostle was sure of. He was sure that Christ was able to keep that which he had committed to Him. And I suppose .every one of us would say that we are sure of it, too. But we act sometimes as if we were not so sure. We are full of doubts and fears and mistrust, which ought not to be.

    Now mark, first, Paul knew the ability of Jesus to keep souls that were committed to Him. He knew that He was God: who can defeat the Deity?

    He knows that as Man and Mediator all power was given to Him in Heaven and earth, and, if all power be with Christ, what power can there be that can stand against that? Nay, what power is there, if He hath all power in Heaven and earth? He knew that if our danger arose from our past sins Christ could meet that, for He had offered an all-sufficient atonement. He knew that if the danger arose from the demands of the law Christ could meet that, for He is “the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

    He knew, moreover, that Christ was so infinitely wise that He could foresee and remove all dangers. If it was Paul’s lot to be sifted in a sieve, he knew that Christ would pray for ]aim that his faith fail not. The prescient eye of our great High Priest foresees the evil, and provides for it ere it comes. He is able to save us in a thousand dangers, and He is able to .’.keep far from us all foes. The keys of death and hell swing at His girdle, and the government is upon His shoulder. We need not fear, therefore, all our enemies, whether they be men or fallen angels, or death itself. Christ, having all power, is able to keep us against all .such dangers.

    This Paul knew; but the point about it was not only that he knew Christ could keep souls, but” that He is able to keep ‘that which I have ‘committed to Him.” You remember Bunyan’s. expression where he says, “These are but generals: come to particulars, man.” And, oh, it is grand to come to particulars in the Gospel. It is a general fact that Christ .can keep souls, but it is a particular fact and a precious fact for me to know that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him. I can believe for everybody sometimes; but faith to believe for myself — that springs out of personal knowledge of Christ, for he that can say, “I know Whom I have believed,” can say, “I am persuaded that He is able to. keep that which I have committed to Him.” Your soul, whatever its peculiarities, your case whatever its dangers, is safe-enough in the hands of Jesus. Do you believe this ?

    If so, note again, the Apostle believed that Jesus was able. to keep him then — “ that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him “ — able now — now that I am in this, dungeon, now that I shall soon have to be executed: He is able to keep me. Do you know it is so easy to say that He. was able to keep us years ago, and so easy to hope that He will be able to keep us by-and-bye, but to rest on Him now, to. believe that this billow will not swamp the ship, that this fire will not consume me, to look at this present trial and to feel that now by God’s grace one could “break through a troop, or leap over a wall “ — this is the grand thing.

    I used to know a countryman who told me this. He was an aged man, and he said, “Sir, all through the winter I wish, I could have a job at reaping. I feel that if I had an opportunity I could reap against any man in the country. But somehow,” said he, “when the autumn times comes and I get my sickle I find that Tom is an old man.” And so oftentimes it is with us.

    We think we have got no end of faith — -perhaps a little to spare — but to have the faith when you have the trouble — there is the point. The good practical faith is. that which believes whatever the circumstances may be, that “He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him.”

    But then he also knew — that Christ was able to keep him “till that day.” I often marvel at the unbelief of old people. When I think of some of them getting on to seventy and having doubts and fears, after having known the Lord for fifty years perhaps, and having been kept by Him all that time, I am indeed surprised. How long do you expect to live? Cannot you trust Him the other ten? Has the Master carried you so long and can you doubt Him now? Surely all those years ought to rise up and upbraid you for unbelief. When I see an aged Christian close on the borders of the grave, sitting on the banks of Jordan with his feet in the-stream and saying, “I do not know yet whether I am saved,” I hope I shall not be in that condition. I pray God I may not. It must be a very wretched state, for He that has kept you so long surely can be trusted to keep you to the end. It is a bad example for young people for you that are growing old to be getting doubts and fears. But may not a man be an excellent Christian and have doubts and fears? He may be a Christian: I won’t say anything about his excellence. Is assurance a necessary thing as a Christian? Well, brethren, a man may be alive that cannot speak, but I think speaking is a necessary thing to a man for all that. That is to say, it is generally necessary — necessary to his comfort, and I should not like to be without it. I will say this much to-night, if I did not know in whom I have believed, and if I were not persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him, I would not dare go to sleep this night till I did know it; or if I must’ through weariness fall asleep the first work of the morning should be to cry out to the living God till I knew I had passed from death unto life. I can understand your Being doubters, but I cannot understand your being comfortable doubters and continuous doubters. The natural condition of a child of God should be that of full confidence in Christ Whom he has trusted, a joyous assurance that all is right because the hand that keeps us is a hand that never wearies, a hand that never palsies. If you have not trusted your soul to Christ, well then, come now as a lost soul; but if you have, why fret and worry and question and dispute? You must be safe: you are safe now and you shall be safe if that is where you are trusting. How can you doubt your Lord? How can you mistrust that hand that holds up Heaven and earth? Oh, go and repent of this great sin and rest in that dear Savior from this time forth, even for evermore.

    IV. Now, the last thing was what the Apostle was. He was not ashamed, he says, for he knew whom he had believed. By this he meant to teach us first that he felt happy. He was a prisoner, despised, calumniated, but he was not ashamed of that. He knew Christ, and knew how safe he was with Christ, and, therefore,’ he was not ashamed. If some people I know of that hide their colors and seem to go sneaking to Heaven did but know Christ a little better they would be happier in their souls and then they would be braver in their actions. It was a happy sight to see Paul expecting to die and yet not regretting that he brought himself to death by preaching Christ — nothing to alter, no wish to go back and retrace his steps and be a Jew and a pupil of Gamaliel to save his life. No, not he ! And so if we have been resting in Jesus, we have no wish to go back to the beggarly elements of the world. Therefore, I pray you trust Him better so that you may be happier in Him and less likely to be ashamed in Him.

    We want now-a-days more of Paul’s courage. You working men, I know, have to work in shops where religion is at a great discount. If a man in some of our large factories be known even to attend a place of worship, he becomes at once a speckled bird. Well, I hope that you who belong to this Church, at any rate if you be ridiculed for Christ, will not only bear it patiently, but joyfully. What is there, after all, to be ashamed of in it? The shame is on the other side. Reply boldly, though meekly. Give a reason for the hope that is in you, and inflict upon every person who ridicules the penance of hearing what the Gospel is. They will be less slow to ridicule when they see you are the braver in confessing the more they persecute you. Oh, for a generation of lions once again. Swifter than eagles may they be in strong passionate love for Christ, and braver than lions with a determination to avow Him and to fight for Him to the death. Let none of us, whether we be poor or rich, illiterate or educated, ever from this hour think of concealing one sentiment we hold, or ever think of keeping back the fact that with the Crucified we take our part in the shame and spitting that we may take our part in the glory with Him hereafter.

    I will close with a story. There was once a king who sent his son into a province of his dominions that had revolted; and this son came there not in princely robe, but dressed as a common peasant of the country. And the men of that land despitefully used him, and they set him in the pillory.

    While he stood in that pillory of scorn, there came one who stood at his side, and when the filth from ungracious hands fell on the prince it fell also upon him. He stood there seeking to screen the prince, if he could, glad to bear contempt and share it with him. All men counted him mad; but there was a day in after times when the great king of that land held his levee, and the courtiers were gathered round about his throne, and the prince that day, returned from the land where he had received .such treatment, put on his silken robes of glory and of beauty. And there stood amidst the throng in the palace halls many princes of great estate, peers of the realm, and nobles of the blood. But the prince, when he had come to his glory, looked over the whole scene and, spying out the man that had stood side by side with him in the pillory of shame, he said, “Make way, princes and peers, for this man was with me in my dishonor: he shall now be with me in my glory.”

    It shall be so at the last when Christ shall sit upon His throne. Do you know the interpretation of the parable? He shall cast His eye over Cherubim and Seraphim and the glittering ranks of angels and see the man that was despised for His sake, and He shall say, “Make way, ye angels!” and they shall;” Make way, ye cherubs !” and they shall;” Make way, ye seraphs!” and they shall; and there shall come the once despised and persecuted man and Christ shall meet him and say, “Thou shalt sit upon My throne, even as I have overcome and am set down with My Father upon His throne.”

    May that be your case and be mine! Amen.

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