Guarded by His Word

By Francis Frangipane

Safe in the Word

The primary means through which we are kept and preserved by God is through obedience to His word. In the submission of our will to God, our soul finds protection from evil. Consider the apostle John's words to the young men of the first century church. He said, "I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one" (1 John 2:14).

Abiding in the Word of God brought spiritual strength to the young men in John's day, enabling them to overcome the evil one. Is this not the reason many of us are defeated by the devil we do not abide in the Word? Christ's teaching guides us into the Presence of the Father; it is the Father's Presence that both empowers and protects us. Jesus said,

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." -John 10:27-29

No one is stronger than our heavenly Father. As we follow Christ, He positions us in the palm of God's hand. Here, death cannot seize us. Whatever battles we face, we never face them alone. There is none like our God. "The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, 'Destroy!' " (Deut. 33:27). Underneath our every step are God's everlasting arms. Thus, when we pass through spiritual conflicts and trials, we are walking on eternal ground, continually kept by the power of Christ's indestructible life (Heb. 7:16). Even when we pass through the shadow of death itself, the powers of death cannot hold us. They are kept at bay by His command.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39

Those Who Never See Death
The Spirit of God is forever redeeming and transforming all that we encounter, causing each event to work for our spiritual good. Indeed, it has been truly stated that rescue is the constant pattern of God's activity; His final act of encouragement is the resurrection.

Jesus promised, "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death" (John 8:51). The Jews to whom Jesus spoke were offended by this statement. They lacked divine logic and the view of life from eternity; they were ignorant of the resurrection power given every follower of Christ.

However, before we judge them too harshly, let us ask ourselves, "Are we offended by Christ's promise?" Given the fact that everyone who followed Jesus in the first century died, are we ashamed of the apparent contradictions of this promise? Do we really believe we shall never see death? The Jews also were perplexed. They countered, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he shall never taste of death' " (John 8:52). But Jesus did not say His followers would never taste death; He said we would never see death.

Certainly, there are times when we seem engulfed by sorrow, trapped in an incubator of death itself. Yet, this is a glory of our faith: Though we die, we do not see death; we see life. We will taste death, but as Christians we ingest life. Yes, if we keep Christ's word throughout the trial, His promise to us is that we shall "never see death." For those who live by every word which comes from the mouth of God, the final outcome of each struggle is not death but life in abundance.

Jesus said, "But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all on account of My name. Yet not even a hair on your head will perish." -Luke 21:16-18

He said we may be put to death, yet not even a hair on our heads shall perish. Is not death the cessation of life? If death is due to illness, is it not the progressive diminishing of life? Yet in Christ, every darkened, shadowy valley into which our human experience descends is predestined to surface in a broad field of life. We taste death but do not see it.

David said, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me" (Ps. 23:4). As frightening as death seems, for those who keep the Word of the Lord death is no more a barrier than a shadow. For what dies in us is that which was foreordained to die-the husk of our old nature. While the death of self is a daily choice, our new inner nature does not die.

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16). Yes, in the experience of our own hearts we have the demonstration of God's resurrection power, effectual both now and in the future. As we keep Christ's word, our difficulties always culminate in eternal life. We join Paul in thanking God, "Who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place" (2 Cor. 2:14).

In the many faces of death, in spite of our failures, sicknesses and difficulties, there remains a Place of Immunity. It is here in our holding fast the Word of Life that the Lord "keeps [us] and the evil one does not touch [us]" (1 John 5:18).

There will be a time when, from the vantage point of heaven, we will review our life's experience. In glorious retrospect we shall see every occasion when destruction stood against us. And, we shall also see that it was here, in these very difficulties, that Christ revealed within us His resurrection power! Though we walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we did not die; rather, we learned to fear no evil. From heaven's view, with awe we will each one day say, "Truly, I have never seen death."

Lord, it is true. Even now, I know that You have been with me in every trial and battle. Because of Your redemptive power, I have become stronger in the very conflicts through which Satan meant to weaken me; I have prospered in the very battles through which the devil sought to destroy me!

Truly, You have worked all things for good in my life. And even in the areas where I have yet to understand Your purposes, I entrust those also to You. For I know that, because of Your grace, even what seems to be the finality of death itself shall be transformed, and in all things I shall know only the power of Your resurrection life. Amen.