If the world loves us, smiles on us, and speaks well of us!
(James Smith, "The Pleading Savior" 1861)
The concern of Jesus for the safety and happiness of His people, is both great and astonishing! He had watched over His disciples while He was with them, and being about to leave them — He would make them the special care and charge of His Father, and thus He prays, "I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, KEEP through Your own name, those whom You have given Me!" John 17:11
Notice the circumstances in which we are placed: "They are still in the world." They are chosen out of it, are raised above it — and yet are left in it, for holy and important purposes.
The world to the believer, is a place of trial. Every principle he has, as well as the profession he makes, will be tried here.
Storms will arise, and often suddenly and unexpectedly.
Labors have to be performed, and self-denying labors too.
Persecutions must be endured, and at times these are fiery and long-continued.
This world is . . .
a treacherous environment,
a field of labor,
a weary land,
an enemy's country!
The world to the Christian is a place of DANGER. He has foes both within and without. From some he must escape by fleeing — and from some by resisting.
"The corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Peter 1:4) is defiling, debasing, and disturbing! It must be overcome; we must cleanse ourselves from it, and escape from its contagion!
Then we have to do battle with . . .
the god of this world — the prince of the power of the air;
the powers of the world — or ungodly, persecuting men in authority;
the men of the world — or the masses surrounding us;
the things of the world, especially . . .
the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eye,
and the pride of life!
In such a world, surrounded by such evil elements and diabolic agents — we must be in danger, and shall be severely tried!!
Hence Jesus pleads with His Father; He fixes on the holiness of His nature and character, and cries, "Holy Father!" His grace, or His mercy, or His pity — more generally attracts us, because we feel unworthy, or miserable, or weak. But His holiness fixes the eye on His obedient Son, and our great High Priest!
He prays for their preservation: "Holy Father, KEEP through Your own name, those whom You have given Me." Keep through Your own name, that is — keep them . . .
in the knowledge of Yourself and of Your truth;
by Your power, mercy, and providence;
to show forth Your truth, Your mercy, and Your love.
The Lord's people, therefore, will be kept by God's power through faith unto salvation.
Beloved, if Jesus thus prayed for us — then our preservation is certain, and our perseverance is sure. We shall be kept, in answer to the prayer of our great High Priest . . .
to His gratification,
for His honor, and
to the Almighty Keeper's glory!
Whatever storms may arise,
whatever foes may assail us,
whatever trials may come upon us —
our Heavenly Father will keep us, in honor of His Son.
Kept by the all-seeing eye and all-powerful hand of Jehovah — we shall persevere, though . . .
the road is rough and treacherous,
the journey is long and dangerous,
and our strength is but small.
Let us in every season of danger . . .
when foes and fears beset us,
when our hearts misgive us, and
the cross lies heavy upon us —
then let us hear Jesus praying for us, "Keep through Your own name — those whom You have given Me!"
Reader! Are you OF the world — or are you one of Christ's redeemed people IN the world? Saints in the world are like . . .
pure lilies among stinging thorns,
precious diamonds among filthy pebbles,
harmless sheep among ravenous wolves!
If the world loves us, smiles on us, and speaks well of us — then we are certainly OF it! And if of the world — we shall certainly be damned along with it.
But if the world is to us a place of trial, and a place of danger; if we feel that we are not at home in it; if we are longing and preparing to leave it, that we may go home and dwell with Jesus in His Father's house forever — then all is well with us, and will be well forever!