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Does God really protect us? If yes, from what?

Does God really protect us? Will thought to himself. As soon as he silently asked himself the question, he answered it. Of course he does. Then another thought: Does he always protect us in the way we want, when we want it? And then he remembered something that Len Redgrove had once said to him. “God’s love for and protection of us are always consistent with his will for us—and his will for us is always consistent with what is best, not only for us, but also for a fallen world that he is always trying to rescue.” [1]from “Custody of the State (Chambers of Justice Book 2)” by Craig Parshall

Does God really protect us? If yes, from what?

I suppose the answer to that question – does God really protect us – is “it depends”.

But, depends on what?

Something about us?

Who/what do we want to be protected from?

Something about God?

Let’s take a look at just a few passages from the Bible and see what they say.

They will be my people, and I will be their God

The heading – “They will be my people, and I will be their God” – or some variation of it, appears several times in the Bible.
Let me ask you a question –

If you’re not one of God’s people,
if you don’t believe in God,
if you actively work against God,
if you hate God –
do you really expect Him to protect you?

If you’re not one of His people and don’t want to be one of His people, you’re probably not even asking that question.
So isn’t it reasonable to expect that you probably aren’t included in “us” when someone else asks if God really protects “us”.

Protect them from the evil one

Jesus said:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

It appears to put some limits around what the word “protect” actually means.

Blessed are those who are persecuted

Uh Oh,  More limits.  Persecution is OK?

Jesus prays for our protection from the evil one, and yet also says –

Mt 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

So that there’s no confusion as to what that means, Jesus also says –

Mt 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.

So persecution is not only OK, it’s expected?  Is that protection?

The tree of life

Finally, at the end of Revelation, Jesus says –

Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Rev 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Rev 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Jesus spoke of those inside versus the ones outside. It really sounds like Jesus doesn’t protect everyone, doesn’t it?

Initial conclusion – Does God really protect us? If yes, from what?

Honestly, it kind of sounds like God doesn’t protect us from much of anything, does it?

That’s a view that lots of non-Christians probably have. There was a time in my life when, even as a Christian, I felt like that.

However, truth be told, there was a whole lot about Christianity that I just plain didn’t understand back then. And if something like that happened to me, we can just imagine how a non-Christian feels. Lack of understanding really can be a problem.

The truth will set you free

John records an event where Jesus was addressing a number of Jews who didn’t understand what Jesus taught. Take a look.

The Children of Abraham

Jn 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Let’s put that in different words with the same meaning.

If we believe what Jesus taught, and live the way He taught, we are true followers of His. When we are true followers of Jesus. we will know the truth. And the truth will set us free.

So – let’s take another look at those passages. For sure, we’ll add context. See if there’s more to it than the brief examination we did on the first go-around.

Second look – The truth will set you free

This is a great place to start. To find out what “truth” and “free” really mean.

For example, we think we’ve invented something new when we think about “our truth” as opposed to someone else’s. Sorry to those who think they’re original. But that’s just not the case. In other words, it’s just not true. Let’s read the entire passage titled The Children of Abraham in the NIV.

The Children of Abraham

Jn 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

What do truth and freedom mean to Jesus, as opposed to those listening to Him? Here are some things to consider.

32. Truth … make … free—Our Lord forthwith applies the test to the genuineness of their faith. The word free, the favourite political term of the zealous Jew, waiting for an emancipator to break the Roman yoke, is a test word. For that gracious freedom which truth affords, in emancipating the soul from irrational and self-destructive action, this Hebrew patriot has no patience. For him the only freedom is release from Rome; the only Messiah is the liberator.  [2]Whedon, D. D. (1874). Luke–John: Vol. II (p. 309). Hodder and Stoughton.

There was a group of Jewish people known as Zealots who wanted the Messiah to free them from Rome. To put an end to the tyranny of the Roman Empire. Anyone who didn’t do that wasn’t the Messiah, according to them. That was a lack of understanding of prophecies in Jewish Scripture.

There were other Jews who held the view below.

Jesus offended His listeners when He made this statement, because they considered themselves in bondage to no one. But Jesus insisted that only faith in Him could free anyone from the power of sin.  [3]Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Jn 8:32). Nelson Bibles.

On the other hand, Jesus was obviously here for something very different.

Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone. It will produce something. After a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he will want to “continue in His Word.” The proof of faith is continuing with the Savior. As the pastor of a church, I learned to watch out for the person who is active in the church but is not interested in the study of the Word of God. Such a one is dangerous to a church.

The truth shall make you free. The truth is that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is the Truth. First we come to Him as our Savior. Then as we go on with Him, we know by experience that we are free. We are free from the penalty of sin—we don’t need to lie awake at night worrying about going to hell. He doesn’t even ask us to live the Christian life. He asks us to trust Him and let Him live His life through us. When we yield to Him, we are free.  [4]McGee, J. V. (1991). Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels (John 1-10) (electronic ed., Vol. 38, p. 140). Thomas Nelson.

Just like today, there were some very different ideas about truth and freedom. Today, in this type of setting, “truth” is often whatever our chosen political party said. Sadly, this happens even in churches. And freedom often comes down to freedom from whatever the other political party is trying to do.

As Qoheleth/the teacher/Solomon said – although, be careful about the section title since there’s lots of sarcasm in this book. The entire passage is relevant, but for today, pay special attention to the portions I underlined.

Everything Is Meaningless

Ecc 1:1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

Ecc 1:2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

Ecc 1:3 What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?

Ecc 1:4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

Ecc 1:5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

Ecc 1:6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

Ecc 1:7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.

Ecc 1:8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

Ecc 1:9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecc 1:10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

Ecc 1:11 There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.

Continuing with The Children of Abraham then:

Jn 8:33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

This was about them being Jewish, and therefore not slaves. However, it ignored the reality of Roman rule. And, it also ignored the point Jesus was making.

Jn 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.’”

Jesus states His case more clearly. It’s about sin, not about human governments. And then there’s that part about “father”.

Jn 8:39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

Culturally, this is true. As far as Judaism, it was also true, since Abraham was the father of their religion.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does.”

Jesus makes it plain that they aren’t following Abraham, but rather their own earthly fathers. The ones who didn’t hold to “They will be my people, and I will be their God“, which we looked at way back towards the beginning.

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

They may have finally realized who Jesus meant by father. However, they still have their own version of truth.

However – Second look – The truth will set you free

There’s something very important in all that which we cannot afford to miss. Notice just how far apart God’s truth and the people’s truth are. The gap is huge.

Also notice that what the people want in a Messiah, for many of them, isn’t why Jesus came to earth. He didn’t come to overthrow the Romans. Nor did Jesus come to tell the Jewish people they were doing a great job at being God’s people. Fat from it. Jesus told this group that Abraham is not their father. By extension then, neither are they children of God.

What’s the bottom line? When it came to “They will be my people, and I will be their God“, these people were failing miserably. And yet, there’s Jesus, right in the middle of it all, trying to return them to be God’s people again!

In this case, did God protect them? Absolutely. Well, as much as they would allow Him to protect them. But Jesus wasn’t there to protect egos, family trees, methods of government, Etc. No, Jesus was there to protect eternal souls.

Supposed one of them asked – Does God really protect us? What’s the answer? The answer is, it depends. If you want your soul protected, then yes, God will give you the means whereby He will protect you. But you must choose to accept His offer.

Second look – Protect them from the evil one & Blessed are those who are persecuted

Here’s the verse we looked at in this section:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

But there’s no context.  What was it really about?

Jesus Prays for All Believers

Jn 17:20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Jn 17:24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Jn 17:25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

I get the part about wanting to be taken out of this world. I can’t begin to count the number of times I asked God to “take me home”.

I guess more people just want God to protect them here in this life, let them live a good life, and live happily ever after. The thing is, the “good life” according to most of us and the “good life” in God’s eye are two very different things.

However – Second look – Second look – Protect them from the evil one Blessed are those who are persecuted

Once again, there’s something we shouldn’t miss. Obviously God hasn’t called me home yet. And while some Christians do live what the world considers a good life, there maybe ought to be some questions about that. God has something very different for us than getting rich and being “happy”.

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said,All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This is what Christians are supposed to do. My writing is part of that. So is leading classes. For more on when I truly came to realize that, please see God – is it time for me to go home?

So, if a Christian today asked, Does God really protect us?, we should know the answer is absolutely yes. God protects our eternal souls. What happens between birth and death, well some of that is planned to help frow our faith, and other times things go wrong but will work out for God’s glory in the end. We start to get that when we also begin to realize it’s not about us. It’s about God. And along the way, we bring others to know God as well, and play a part in allowing God to save their souls as well.

And so, once again, the answer to the question is, it depends. God will protect us as part of what we just read above, to ensure things do work out well, in the end.

Second look – The tree of life

For The Tree of Life, here’s the entire passage. It’s at the very end of the Bible. The last section in Revelation.

Jesus Is Coming

Rev 22:7 “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

Rev 22:8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”

Rev 22:10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”

Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Rev 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Rev 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Rev 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

Yes, the insiders and the outsiders.

From our initial look, if one of them asked the question, does God really protect us, the answer depends on whether the question is from an insider or an outsider. The insider says yes God obviously did protect us. The outsider says obviously not.

However – Second look – The tree of life

However, is that really true? I submit, it’s not quite right.

If we are on the inside, yes, God did protect our souls. But is that true for those on the outside? Or is it only partly true?

And of course, with the usual – it depends – our inside our outside status very much depends on where we wanted to be. We got what we wanted!

Conclusion – Does God really protect us? If yes, from what?

We ‘ve seen plenty of evidence that God does protect us, if we want to be protected. He will be our God of we will be His people.

We’ve also seen the evidence that if we were following God, and turned away, He will try to get us back.

However, in the spirit of it depends – it depends on one really big thing. We must want God to protect us. By want, I mean we must be one of His people. We must want to follow Jesus.

There’s another “however” in there as well. I want to point out something in the passage from Revelation.

Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

This is the offer for everyone. Every person. No matter what. There is no “it depends” attached to this offer. It really is offered to everyone.

However, we must – I repeat must- choose to accept it. And then we must be one of God’s people. And then, God really will protect us.

So yes – God does protect “us”.

But even for “us” – maybe it’s not the kind of protection we were hoping for.

It is, however, the kind of protection we need.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 from “Custody of the State (Chambers of Justice Book 2)” by Craig Parshall
2 Whedon, D. D. (1874). Luke–John: Vol. II (p. 309). Hodder and Stoughton.
3 Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Jn 8:32). Nelson Bibles.
4 McGee, J. V. (1991). Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels (John 1-10) (electronic ed., Vol. 38, p. 140). Thomas Nelson.

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