5 Ways God Keeps Us Through His Church
In Psalm 73, the psalmist Asaph begins his poem in a very dangerous spot spiritually. His “feet had almost stumbled” and his “steps had nearly slipped” (v2) as he saw the prosperity of the wicked all around him. It made his soul “embittered” (v21) and “envious” (v3) – so much so that he began to ask himself if living a holy life that honored God was “all in vain” (v13). Asaph was experiencing a crisis of faith, standing on the slippery edge of his trust in God, contemplating jumping out of God’s hands into the seemingly delight-filled lives of the wicked in their sin.
All of that changed for him one day when God broke through during a day of ordinary corporate worship in the tabernacle…
“When I though how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end…” vv15-16
There in the sanctuary, standing among God’s people, under the authority of God’s Word, being ministered to by God’s priests, the Lord acted to lift the eyes of Asaph from the material world to the spiritual one. Though his material problems and afflictions remained, he caught a view of God that day that changed his perspective on it all.
What follows this moment in the sanctuary are some of the most moving words in all the psalter…
“Whom have I in heaven but you, and there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” vv25-26
Clearly, the Lord had moved powerfully in Asaph’s heart and life that day in the sanctuary. A truth which underscores a reality we see throughout the scriptures – God keeps his people through his church! He has given the church to his people as a form of strengthening and protection to keep his people from falling away into the distractions and temptations in this life. He keeps and sustains us to the end through his grace poured out in the habit of corporate worship that we call the church.
Let us consider for a moment how he does this. Let us think on the ways that he has designed the church to operate in order to maintain the spiritual preservation of his people unto Heaven.Here are 5 Ways God Keeps Us Through His Church…
God sustains his people through the regular encouragement, correction, and training brought forth through the ministry of the Word in faithful exposition. As ministers seek to faithfully expose the truth of God’s Word to the ears of their people, God speaks to bring about change in their hearts. He has designed exposition as a means of spiritual transformation to occur every time we gather together. (1 Tim 4:13, 2 Tim 2:15, 2 Tim 4:1-2)
God appoints endurance for his saints as they encourage one another through conversations and singing in the corporate gathering. Being knit in as members of a church, they are able to spur one another on toward love and faithfulness. They speak truth to one another in love, encouraging all to continue to bear gospel fruit in faithfulness to God. (Eph 4:15-16, Eph 4:25, Heb 10:23-25)
God sustains his people through the careful watching and oversight of elders in the local church. He calls for qualified and faithful men to carefully oversee the flock, shepherding them in the Word of God, guiding them toward love and good works. They serve as a protection from fierce wolves, a voice of courageous truth, and a watchful eye of love within the body. (1 Pet 5:3, Acts 20:20, Acts 20:28, Acts 20:29032, Titus 1:9-13, 1 Peter 5:8, James 5:14-15, Hebrews 13:17)
God keeps his people unto eternal salvation in Heaven by leading them to repentance from sin through the regular grace poured out in the church. Through the Word, members, and elders, corrective words that convict are given, and in the kindness of God, the Holy Spirit leads us to repentance from sin. As we turn back to God, he keeps our feet from slipping by returning us to solid ground. (Rom 2:4, 2 Tim 3:16-17, Eph 4:11-16)
God protects his saints from spiritual amnesia and keeps them from falling away through sacred remembrance of the Gospel in the Lord’s Supper. In the elements of bread and wine, representing the body and blood of Calvary, Christ draws our minds back to the love, power, and forgiveness of God. There, standing firm in the Gospel, we are kept in the love of God by the grace of God. (Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor 11:26)
In these five ways, and in dozens more, the Lord places a bedrock of sovereign grace under the feet of his saints, keeping them firm, stable, and steadfast even as the distractions and temptations of this life assail. Our great God keeps his people, just as he kept Asaph here is Psalm 73!
May we live to worship in great gratitude our sovereign God who keeps us!
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 24-25
This article was written as an excerpt from the sermon “The Lord is My Portion!” on Psalm 73 preached at Emmaus Church on Sunday, Sept 5, 2022.