The thought of "preservation" makes me think of history. It's an amazing thing that the human race has not gone extinct, but perhaps even more amazing is the preservation of our history. Nations and people groups pass away, but much of the history of those people and their culture has been preserved and passed down from generation to generation.
Well, as a Christian, I am forced to look at church history and marvel over the preservation of God's people ("Believers"). We are like the "cockroaches" of history, you just can't get rid of us! We are like McDonald's hamburgers (if you will), we just don't expire! And I'm not talking about our spirits (although I do believe that the spirit of a believer lives on forever), I'm talking about the propagation of a people group who believe in and give their lives for one particular God, despite all opposition of every generation (time and space hinder me from discussing all the leaders of this world who have tried and failed to rid the world of Christianity, starting with Jewish leaders, then Roman leaders, to European and Middle Eastern leaders).
In studying Christian history, I have determined that the preservation of God's people can be attributed to one "special preservative"--God's Word. I want to look at two passages from the Bible that prophesy rather clearly of this matter. One is Psalm 12 and the other is part of Psalm 119.
Psalm 12 has been the cause of a bit of controversy over the years, when it comes to the subject of preservation. Where verse 7 says, "Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." people have come to different conclusions as to what or who is being "kept" and "preserved." Today, most Hebrew scholars seem to conclude that it is referring to people, whereas I have always heard that it is referring to God's Word. I'll show in a minute why it doesn't matter so much to the purpose of this article, but first let's consider the passage.
The beginning of the chapter makes reference to wicked men who have not humbled themselves, but have served their own desires and made themselves their own "lords." Then it speaks of the "poor" and "needy." I don't believe this to be so much about possessions and wealth as it is referring to a "spiritual" poverty (remember Jesus said "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" in Matt 5:3). Then, the Lord says "I will set him in safety" followed by "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Considering each verse in the chapter, I would say it is very possible that this passage is speaking of a promise God is making to preserve His people for all generations. He most certainly has done that!
However, I feel like things become a little clearer when we read Psalm 119. This great chapter has a reference to God's words in just about every verse ("laws," "judgments," "precepts...") The psalmist here uses some very similar words and phrases as those found in Psalm 12. Compare the following verses:
119:140 - "Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it"
(12:6 - "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.")
119:160 - "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever"
(12:7 - "Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.")
And so, in my heart, one thing becomes clear. Whether or not Psalm 12:7 is referring to God's Word or God's people, we know He continues to preserve both. In fact, I believe it is clear that He preserves His people BY His Word. How would we know what God wanted us to do if He didn't record for us His commands? We no doubt have today the same commands of the Lord to which the psalmist was referring (probably more specifically, "the Law of Moses"). The Prophets had not all yet come, and the Messiah had not yet come (so the New Testament obviously wasn't written yet), but the psalmist, at that time, had a part of God's Word that we still have today.
In our day, I believe with all my heart we have the entire Word of God. Concerning New Testament preservation, we could look to such passages as Matthew 24:35 where Jesus said "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Another great passage to consider that sort of gives prophecy concerning the preservation of God's Word through the work of the Holy Spirit is John 14:23-27:
"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (When Jesus said "he shall teach you," He was talking to men who would be instrumental in the written recording of God's Word.)
If you are a believer, and you are wondering what will come of future generations of Christians, just consider Psalm 119:165, "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." (or cause them to stumble) You don't have to live in fear that Christians might go extinct. You just need to love God's Word and rest assured that He will do the preserving.
Do you love God's Word? Keep loving and following every word. They are like "special preservatives." That's right; they will keep us believers around longer than David Whipple's hamburger.