The Believer’s Secure Refuge

One of my favorite memories of a ministry trip to Scotland is of the majestic Edinburgh castle. I have a tea towel with a print of the castle featuring a bag piper and the lyrics of “Amazing Grace.” Such a castle is an emblem of the refuge that God’s grace provides to the believing sinner!

Proverbs 18:10 proclaims,

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.”

What a secure refuge is our God!

  • God is a refuge from sin’s penalty.

Because of inheriting spiritual death (Rom 5:12) and choosing our own ways, everyone needs deliverance from condemnation. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:19-20).

But how many commands must we have broken to be guilty before a holy God? James declares, “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). How we need a refuge from sin’s penalty! This is the provision of salvation in Christ, who declared: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

A. C. Dixon shared a touching story about the importance of finding a refuge:

“A dear friend of mine who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ‘Rising early one morning,’ he said, ‘I heard the baying of a score of deer hounds in pursuit of their quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, then the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ So is it, when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God. Well do I remember when the hounds of sin were after my soul, until, at last, I ran into the arms of Almighty God.” [1]

Thank God for the safety of His grace. Have you taken this Refuge?

  • God is a refuge from Satan.

The enemy of our souls is described in Revelation 12:10 as the accuser of the brethren who accuses God’s people day and night. In the days following Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity, the Enemy resisted the high priest. The prophet Zechariah saw the spiritual conflict unveiled:

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’ And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by. Then the Angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “If you will walk in My ways, And if you will keep My command, Then you shall also judge My house, And likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk Among these who stand here”‘” (Zech. 3:1-7).

As described in this Old Testament passage, Satan first tempts, then accuses us. Yet, we have Christ as the Victor who has defeated the devil and has clothed His people with His unblemished righteousness! (Col. 2:15; Phil. 3:9) As believers, we can follow the example of the heroes of Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Let us put on the whole armor of God and stand against this adversary! (Eph 6:10-18).

  • God is a refuge from the storms of life.

We are not exempt from trials. On the contrary, being identified with God’s Kingdom can make us closer to the “line of fire.” The Philippians were instructed, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29). Yet, believers have the Holy Spirit who equips them to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4).

Although we are not exempt from affliction in this sin-cursed world, we have a refuge! Our God filters life’s circumstances with His “hedge of protection” (Job 1:10). Even if martyrdom is permitted, God promises His unfailing presence, His grace for endurance, and His victorious hope: Paul concluded, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).

An example of God’s protective care comes from the life of Martin Luther. He risked his life when he took a stand on the truth of justification by faith. At a council in Germany in 1521, Luther refused to recant on the scriptural teaching in his writings. Even being excommunicated from the official church of the day did not deter him. He would probably have been martyred for his loyalty to Scripture (as William Tyndale was 15 years later), but God protected him. An imperial edict demanded Luther be arrested and his books burned. In God’s providence, however, the German territorial ruler, Frederick the Wise, delivered the reformer. He had Luther “kidnapped” and whisked away to the refuge of his castle in Wartburg. For months his location was a mystery. Meanwhile, Luther used the time to work on perhaps the most valuable ministry project of his life–the translation of the New Testament into German. [2]

Likewise, our God will shield us and enable us to accomplish the ministry He desires to do in and through us.

Even after almost five centuries, Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” continues to bless the hearts of God’s people.

A Mighty Fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe-
His craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus it is He-
Lord Sabaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.[3]

Friend, be strong in the Lord today, for He is your secure refuge!


Notes:

[1] quoted by E. M. Bounds

[2] See Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church, p. 310,311.

[3] For the full lyrics of the hymn, see http://nethymnal.org/htm/m/i/mightyfo.htm
LORD “Saboath” (Hebrew-“of hosts”) i.e., Lord of the Armies of heaven

Grace Notes (c) 2000, 2010 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non commercial use. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Second edition of Secure Refuge. Grace Notes (c) 2000, 2010 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non commercial use. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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Copyright, John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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