Saturday, March 15, 2014

Held and Kept--By CH Spurgeon

Held and Kept
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 labour 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.
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 enquiries, 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 will 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 Saviour.
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 soul’s 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 committs 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 defenceless 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 defenceless to the care of the guardian, the great act of faith is done. But then the defenceless 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.
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 Saviour. 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 Saviour. 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 Saviour, 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, “I 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 Saviour? 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 Saviour 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 alway, 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 Saviour is to a great extent a doubting Saviour. 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.
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 him 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 opportun[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Able to the Uttermost: Twenty Gospel Sermons (pp. 157–165). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.