Had sin never blighted God’s perfect universe and, apparently, it did so on two occasions, salvation would never have become necessary. The first occurrence of sin was in the angelic rebellion recorded in Isaiah chapter 14 when Lucifer illegally sought for himself what the Divine throne represented. It is in the context of this momentous event that Revelation chapter 12 should be assessed. The metaphorical language of the chapter describes how Satan, called “the dragon”, drew with “his tail” a third of these heavenly beings for his own nefarious purposes. God’s response to this insurgency was an immediate casting down of the participants to a state where they are held for future judgment in “chains of darkness” without any hope of salvation whatsoever.
In contrast to the immutable decision with regard to “Satan and his angels” in their wickedness, is the revelation of God’s boundless mercy towards man when, by his disobedience, sin was caused to invade his domain. In spite of the fact that Adam and Eve, in their wilfulness chose a path of revolt, God, at the very time of its happening, gave clear evidence of His purpose for the restoration of His sinning creatures. This process, first hinted at in Eden’s garden and which pervades the whole of the Scriptures, is, of course, called ‘Salvation.’ While angelic transgressors are reserved for everlasting fire prepared for them, Matt.25.41, God’s overflowing benevolence, Titus 3.3-5, has decreed a way for man to be reconciled to his Creator and rescued from the dire consequences of sin. Immediately we are made aware of the fact that ‘salvation’ in its many aspects has to do with sin and deliverance from its results.
The word ‘salvation’ appears in the A.V. 163 times (118 times in the O.T. and 45 times in the N.T.). This one fact alone shows how all-pervasive the subject is in God’s Word. In both the Old and New Testaments the term essentially carries the same meaning of rescue, deliverance, safety and perseverance. It is, undoubtedly, the most comprehensive doctrine in the Scriptures of Truth. It gathers together all the main themes of the Bible giving an extensive revelation of God’s saving work on behalf of His sinful and lost creation. The first and last usages of the word in Scripture are significant. Jacob, in Gen.49.18, says “I have waited for Thy salvation.” His statement is made in the context of Dan’s serpent-like behaviour. Looking back to the serpentine form assumed by the Evil One and contemplating the Satan inspired behaviour of Dan, especially as emphasised in the book of Judges, Jacob is fully confident of salvation’s final consummation. The last time the word is used is in Rev.19.1. Jacob’s trust is not misplaced. Sin having been dealt with, the final throes of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God are about to be enacted when “salvation” with its resulting “glory, and honour, and power” are ascribed “unto the Lord our God”. The vast subject of salvation may then be termed the cornerstone of all Bible teaching.
So that the subject under consideration, in its broadest significance, may be handled in a systematic way the following outline will be followed.
DETERMINING THE SOURCE
The Limited Possibilities
The Unique Importance
The Uncompromising Doctrine
DEFINING THE PURPOSE
The Remarkable Meaning
The Righteous Basis
The Divine Motivation
DESCRIBING THE WORK
The Gracious Means
The Universal Scope
The Unconditional Terms
DETAILING THE OUTCOME
The Amazing Provision
The Stringent Demands
The Glorious Consummation
DETERMINING THE SOURCE
The Limited Possibilities
The first consideration must be that of salvation’s source. Since the Devil and the evil spirits linked to him, in view of their pernicious character, are bent on the destruction of all that is good and holy they are instantly ruled out as to the origin of this great work. As it is also evident that man’s deliverance from the results of sin cannot be a matter of accident the options remaining are clear. Either man himself or God or a combination of both must be responsible for such a happy condition if it is to be enjoyed. Contrary to the misguided belief of so many, it runs in the face of both history and personal experience to claim that man could save himself. The witness of Scripture on that point is also unequivocal. Paul, speaking of the choice God has made calls it “the election of grace” and proceeds to say, “if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” Rom.11.5,6. In his letter to Titus he further asserts that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” 2.5. With this the writers in the Old Testament agree. Note for example Isa.64.6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Not one verse of Scripture in context can be adduced to show that man’s deliverance could be brought about by any effort of his own. Nor can the work of salvation be looked upon as a co-operative effort wrought partly by God and partly by men. In the sight of a holy God man’s plight is so desperate that Divine power alone suffices to bring about his salvation. As the words from Romans chapter 11 (quoted above) show, man’s spiritual well being must be all of grace or all of works. It cannot be a combination of both. From the belly of the great fish the prophet Jonah cried, “Salvation is of the LORD” 2.9. Those who follow in the prophet’s footsteps can say with J. M. Gray,
Boasting excluded, pride I abase.
I’m only a sinner saved by grace.
No thought can ever be entertained of anyone other than God being the origin, the spring and the final consummator of salvation and all its consequences.
The Unique Importance
The author of the Hebrew letter writes of “so great salvation” 2.3. Such is the magnitude of this Divine work that the intrinsic participation of all three Persons of the Godhead is specifically noted in the Word of God. The same Hebrew epistle, in 9.14, links the individually unique part played by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in bringing about this amazing work. The offering of Himself by the Lord Jesus was done to God and wrought in all the power of the “the eternal Spirit”, a reference to the Holy Spirit. The offering up of the Lord Jesus to satisfy the righteous demands of God’s throne was purposed in eternal ages past and in that design and accomplishment the Holy Spirit was involved in all His mighty power. The salvation of which we speak was purposed by the Father, procured by the Son and is perfected in the power of the Holy Spirit. What the Lord Jesus accomplished when “He offered Himself without spot to God” was the vindication of God’s holiness. At the same time He laid the basis whereby God could, in keeping with His Own righteous character, proclaim “Deliver him [mankind] from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom” Job 33.24.
The Uncompromising Doctrine
In Acts chapter 4, when the high priest and many of his kindred were gathered together in Jerusalem to interrogate Peter and the other apostles in regard to the healing of the impotent man, Peter, in no uncertain terms, testified to the fact that the man had been made whole “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead” v.10. With regard to that Name he also declared “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” v.12. With this inflexible witness all the other writers of the New Testament concur and they do so in different ways. In a completely different context Paul, stressing the fact that God, as to His essential Being, is One writes “… God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all” 1 Tim.2.3-6. But we need go no further to find confirmation for this point than to the claims of the Lord Jesus Himself. He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” Jn.14.6. Only a man suffering from a false sense of grandeur could make such a claim, unless it was true. What the almost 40 authors of the various books of the Bible do, is to substantiate this claim, one way or another, and do so without a dissenting voice.
From what the Bible teaches we are brought face to face with these facts.
Salvation is exclusively the work of God on behalf of sinful men.
Such is the enormity of the task involved that the Triune God must be concerned in its every aspect.
God’s sole means for providing such salvation is in the gift of His Son who was foreordained “to give His life a ransom for many” Matt.20.28.
DEFINING THE PURPOSE
The Remarkable Meaning
To say that ‘salvation’ was planned by the Father, procured by the Lord Jesus and perfected by the Holy Spirit is, perhaps, to put too fine an interpretation on the respective activities engaged in by the Persons of the Godhead in order to bring it about. It is, though, of unquestionable certainty that all three Persons of the Trinity are fully participant in its inception and culmination. With such participation a reality to inquire into the basic meaning of salvation is not only important but also imperative for all who would be fully cognisant of God’s mind regarding it.
In Old Testament times the word itself had an interesting backdrop. It came from a root meaning ‘wide or roomy’ in contrast to that which is ‘narrow or circumscribed’. Immediately thoughts of freedom, emancipation and protection come to mind. It is used in this sense in both spiritual and physical ways. When Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke of “the horn of salvation which (the God of Israel) raised up for us” he was manifestly speaking of physical deliverance from Israel’s enemies, see Lk.1.69-71. When Peter cried out “Lord save me” Matt.14.30, it was from the danger of drowning he desired to be rescued. However, by far the more numerous occasions when the word is used refer to the salvation of the soul from eternal perdition culminating in the eternal preservation and well-being of all who are brought into the good of the blessings it bestows. The spiritual meaning indicates the Divine process whereby sinful men are delivered from sin’s awful consequences and fitted to become children of God and heirs of His kingdom.
Such a process is assuredly manward taking place on earth with eternal issues fundamentally involved. But the words used in conjunction with the term ‘salvation’ or those closely related to it show how much wider is the range of meaning involved. To begin with, the work of salvation, as far as the individual is concerned, does indeed bring deliverance from sin’s penalty but this is initiated by the electing grace of God. When Paul wrote of enduring “all things for the elect’s sake, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” 2 Tim.2.10, he was referring to those individuals who would be saved through his ministry because they were the chosen of God. The apostle further writes in full support of this view, “He hath chosen us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” Eph.1.4. Nor is Peter in disagreement with his fellow apostle since he writes of the strangers who were, at the time, scattered in various parts of Asia Minor as being “elect (chosen) according to the foreknowledge (infallible omniscience) of God” 1 Pet.1.2. The “elect” are those who are chosen by God unto salvation. The reception of this salvation is effective by the call in the gospel to which the individual concerned is freely responsive. No doubt the first step in this response to the gospel call is that of the conviction of sin which, according to the words of the Lord Jesus, is uniquely, the work of the Holy Spirit. “When He (the Holy Spirit) is come, He will reprove (convict or convince) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” Jn.16.8. For this prodigious work of salvation to be wrought in any soul this convincing or convicting of sin is absolutely essential. To accept the fact that God is true, even if every man is a liar, and recognize that I, as an individual, stand a convicted felon in God’s courtroom is a conviction not to be reneged of or, at a later time, cast aside. In a somewhat different context Paul also wrote “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of” 2 Cor.7.10. The convicting power of the Holy Spirit leads to true repentance just as surely as does the goodness of God, Rom.2.4.
The Righteous Basis
To speak of salvation as working deliverance is to bring to the fore the concept of redemption and the paying of a ransom which has already been briefly mentioned. Scripture shows that man is a slave in the thraldom of sin and universal experience fully agrees with that. For such a deliverance as we are now contemplating, a ransom must be paid. Sin has brought man to the extremity of moral bankruptcy with, as it were, an incalculable debt to his Maker and God. For this vast encumbrance to be removed and the sinner himself to be released from its onerous accountability all the claims of God’s righteousness must find satisfaction. This aspect of salvation, that of ‘redeeming’, ‘ransoming’, ‘paying the price’ or ‘buying back’, is found in three words used in the N.T. to express such thoughts. In Eph.1.7 it is written, “in whom (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” In the words of the Lord Jesus, Mk.10.45, the same truth is emphasised “the Son of Man came … to give His life a ransom for many” and, once again, Paul adds to the clarity of meaning when he wrote, “ye are bought with a price” 1 Cor.7.23. These verses, among many, declare the ransom to be unmistakably essential and beyond anything of man’s accomplishment, see also Ps.49.7,8. It is God’s sole prerogative to redeem. The words spoken by Hanameel to his nephew Jeremiah, “the right of redemption is thine” Jer.32.7, in the matter of man’s sin, must be applied to God alone. The insurmountable vastness of man’s debt and to Whom it is owed is illustrated in the parable of the debtors spoken by the Lord in Matthew chapter 18. The creditor of the parable is called “the Lord of the servant” who, “moved with compassion, and loosed him (the first debtor), and forgave him the debt” v.27. Such words could never be employed of anyone but God. This, the Lord Jesus proceeds to do when He says, “so likewise shall My heavenly Father do also unto you” v.35. The God to Whom man’s debt is due is the One of Whom it is declared “who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”. In this very context it is also stated concerning the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” that “He gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time,” 1 Tim.2.5,6. Obviously, then, salvation, in its specifics, includes the idea of a ransom being paid for the release of sin’s captives. It shows the doors of the ‘debtor’s prison’ flung wide open so that all who accept by faith the Divinely offered terms are allowed to go free, see Isa.61.1 and Lk.4.18.
The Divine Motivation
Sin also constitutes man as an “enemy of God”. In the Colossian epistle, decrying the baleful influence of “worldly philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men” 2.8, Paul reminds the believers that “they were sometime (onetime) alienated and enemies in (your) mind by wicked works” 1.21. The natural enmity of men towards God is brought about by the evil nature that has been inherited from our first forebear. This is also further exacerbated by “the law of commandments” Eph.2.15. This statement, in its context, has to do with ordinances once separating Jew and Gentile but now abolished by Christ in His death, yet ample witness is given elsewhere to the effect that men “hate the light” and fear the revealing qualities of God’s Word, Jn.3.20. To enjoy a right and happy relationship, enemies need to be reconciled unconditionally. In the gift of His Son to the death of the cross God has, in love unfathomable, provided the means whereby “His banished be not expelled from Him” 2 Sam.14.14
It should be noted here that the cause of the enmity is to be found in mankind and that God’s attitude to all men is summed up in the message of reconciliation. That word, extended to peoples of every age, clime, language and station is “be ye reconciled to God” 2 Cor.5.20. This is the plea being made constantly by the heralds of the gospel and prompted by a love which knows no limits. Because of the reconciling work accomplished by the Lord Jesus all men are included in the invitation and are ‘savable’. Sadly, because of stubborn unbelief, all will not be saved. Once again it may be stressed that the words involved ‘salvation’ and ‘reconciliation’ are found juxtaposed one with the other in Rom.5.9,10. As believing sinners we have been ‘justified’ by the blood of Christ; “we shall be saved from (future) wrath through Him” and when “we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son”. This gracious state of affairs is wholly contingent upon the love of God. “God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” v.8, and “in love” He has “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” Eph.1.4,5
3. DESCRIBING THE WORK OF SALVATION
The Gracious Means
Depraved and corrupt, man’s sinfulness stands in stark contrast to the absolute holiness of God. That man is capable of doing good to his fellows, and at times, with no ulterior motive, is evident enough but it is also manifestly clear that he can do nothing whatsoever to merit God’s favour and obtain His salvation. When asked by people in Capernaum, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” the Lord Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent” Jn.6.28,29. Scripture uniformly affirms that salvation is bestowed on the grounds of faith alone. “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness” Rom.4.3; “For by grace are ye saved through faith” Eph.2.8 and, bringing the subject to its ultimate conclusion Peter adds, “Receiving the end (outcome) of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” 1 Pet.1.9. Neither repentance, nor prayers, nor human desire can bring it about. Faith alone saves and the object of saving faith is “He Whom God hath sent” Jn.3.34. “The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” 1 Jn.4.14. The means God chose to provide salvation was pictured and prophesied throughout the ages prior to the coming of the Lord Jesus, signifying that this was by no means an afterthought with God or something He was compelled to do. The cumulative indications that a death would be accomplished to satisfy all the holy requirements of God’s character and, at the same time, give expression to His wondrous love are brought to reality in God’s gift of His Son. “God sent … His Son into the world … that the world through Him might be saved” Jn.3.17. The true meaning of the pictures and prophecies is that the death accomplished for salvation would be the death of God’s own Son. He is designated as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” Rev.13.8. The death of the Lord Jesus on behalf of all is God’s awesome means of securing salvation for the many who believe.
No angel could my place have taken, highest of the high, though he.
There on the cross, despised, forsaken, was One of the Godhead Three.
(J. M. Gray)
And again we sing in Isaac Watt’s words,
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my heart, my life, my all.
The Universal Scope
It is surprising that many men of gift and capability who, in their zeal to limit the scope of salvation procured, do not see the inconsistency of giving different interpretations to the same words in order to buttress their own view. One such individual actually claims that “often the Bible uses the word world and all in a restricted, limited sense” and goes on to say “it is clear that all is not all.” An old and wise saying runs directly contrary to this type of thinking, “If the Bible does not mean what it says then no one can say what it means!” When Paul writes in Romans that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” 3.23, or John writes “the whole world lieth in wickedness” 1 Jn.5.19, and it is universally accepted that no restriction should be placed upon the words used, why should it be deemed sound exposition to place limitations on the very same words used by the Lord Jesus Himself and some of the apostles? In a book written towards the end of the apostolic era and directed, apparently, to Gentile readers it makes no sense to record the words of the Lord, “For God so loved the world …” if the words do not mean exactly what they say. When Paul wrote, “Christ died for the ungodly” Rom.5.6, the background was that of the legal attestation “there is none righteous, no, not [even] one” and “all the world … guilty before God” Rom.3.10,19. Paul did not mean that Christ died for some of the ungodly! Further, when the Lord Jesus sent forth His disciples the mandate He gave was “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” Mk.16.15. It is inconceivable that the Lord would have given such a commission while aware of the fact that the benefits accruing from His death so recently accomplished were not available to all to whom the disciples were sent. These Scriptures, and many others, make it imperative to believe that the gospel, in all its mighty power, is offered to all and that without limit. The J.N.D. version makes this very clear: “But [shall] not the act of favour [be] as the offence? For if by the offence of one the many have died, much rather has the grace of God, and the free gift in grace, which [is] by the one man Jesus Christ, abounded unto the many … so then as [it was] by one offence towards all men to condemnation, so by one righteousness towards all men for justification of life” Rom.5.15, 18. While recognizing the fact that all will not be partakers of “so great salvation” it is to be insisted upon that salvation is offered as being within reach of every man without limit. It is the mind of God that “the death of Christ should provide salvation for all men and procure salvation for all who believe”. That rebellious unbelief is the reason many are left bereft of all the blessings salvation brings is encompassed by the unfailing omniscience of God. In keeping with that, not because of it, the Lord sees to it that some, ‘compelled’ by grace, shall come to partake of the great supper prepared, Lk.14.16-24. Thus “the purpose of God according to election” stands, Rom.9.11.
The Unconditional Terms
That good works are an essential part of the conditions for salvation is so widely held that, in many places, it is accepted without any question at all. It is claimed by some that this is what the Scriptures teach and so they say, “Eternal blessedness in heaven is the reward for good works performed on this earth”. To sustain such an erroneous belief, words from Scripture that have no bearing whatever on the initial work of salvation in the soul are often produced. Verses such as Phil.2.12, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” and Rom.2.6,7, “God … will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.” In view of the many other Scriptures which are specific in their denial that ‘works’ by themselves or in conjunction with creed or ritual, cannot merit salvation, to hold such a belief is to render the Bible a very inconsistent book. In the exact context were Paul insists that it is the grace of God which brings salvation to all men and that it is “Not by works of righteousness that we have done but according to His mercy He saved us,” he also stresses the fact that such ‘saved ones’ are “a peculiar [purchased] people, zealous of good works” see Titus 2.13-3.5. It is obvious that positing good works as a condition for salvation just will not bear scrutiny and that the proof texts offered must bear a different meaning, and they do. In the Philippian assembly problems, seemingly of a personal nature had arisen. The apostle, being absent from them at the time of writing encourages the believers to settle their differences, put things right and do so with fear and trembling. They as believers are called upon, not to attempt to merit salvation by working for it but to imitate the great example of their Lord and Saviour Who humbled Himself and was obedient unto the death of the cross. About the same time, when writing to Titus the background of his exhortation is that of the Cretans whose moral character left so much to be desired. Those on the island who have come to faith in Christ for salvation are reminded that a very noticeable change in behaviour is expected of them every one.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16.31: “Whosoever believeth in Him [Christ as the Son of God] should not perish but have eternal life” Jn.3.15. Dozens of Scriptures stating the same thing could be cited, showing without fear of contradiction that salvation comes simply, entirely and completely on one condition alone; that of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Saviour of sinners.
DETAILING THE OUTCOME
The Amazing Provision
Of all the interlinking themes related to ‘salvation’ the most basic are, repentance, the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation and justification. Acts 20.21 reveals how closely associated repentance is to faith; Paul’s testimony to both Jews and Greeks was “repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ”. Repentance, a complete change of mind with regard to God, self, sin and judgment, absolutely necessary to salvation, is an intrinsic part of “faith towards God”. In actuality there cannot be one without the other. The “forgiveness of sins” presents the accused and convicted sinner with a ‘writ of pardon’ while ‘justification’ gives him an entirely new status in the sight of God. In his great forensic epistle, the letter to the Romans, the apostle portrays man as having rebelled against the revelation God gave to him, whether in nature all about him or in the special communication contained in Holy Writ. This, of necessity, contains a rejection of the foremost of all Divine statements, “God manifest in flesh” 1 Tim.3.16, in the Person of His Son the Lord Jesus. In the same Roman letter he also exposes man as corrupt in thought, word and deed with the roots of such behaviour traced back to man’s first forebear, Adam. The inescapable verdict is recorded in 3.19 in words unmistakably plain and to which reference has previously been made, “Every mouth … stopped, and all the world … become (or declared) guilty before God”. It must be stressed here also that man’s guilt is such that only Divine forgiveness could clear the account. While this is so in the writings of the prophets the Lord has shown Himself as “a God ready to pardon” Neh.9.17 and Isa.55.7. The forgiveness of sins does not erase the actual crime. That is a matter of historical fact but it does expunge the record so that the accountability is no longer imputed to the sinner. ‘Another’ has stepped into the breach and has taken that liability as His own.
In like manner justification must also be considered as an indivisible part of salvation’s process. The opposite side of the same coin is the subject, “the forgiveness of sins”, just now examined. If, on the one hand, man is declared ‘not guilty’ on the other he is said to have a right standing before God that gives him acceptability with God as well. Justification in itself does not make the believer righteous but it reckons, or counts, him so to be. Leading up to his great declaration in Rom.5.1, “therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”, Paul uses the words “counted”, “reckoned” and “imputed” some ten or eleven times (see Rom.4.3-24). On each of these occasions the word could easily be translated ‘credited’. This fact emphasises what has already been stated. This view of salvation is a legal affirmation that the believing sinner has been acquitted of all charges and now stands declared absolutely righteous by the God of Holiness Himself. Because of the death of the Lord Jesus on behalf of the sinner God can eternally close the account of sin for the believer and, without any injustice whatsoever, pronounce His children, one and all, righteous before Him. This is the gracious and wondrous provision God has made for the sinner in the giving up of His Son to the death of the cross.
The Stringent Demands
Salvation is God’s free gift in grace but salvation is not free. It has its demands and they are not to be ignored. There is no such doctrine as continuing in sin that grace may abound, as seen in the rhetorical question and its answer in Rom.6.2. This can be rightly understood when it is remembered that salvation has three aspects; past, present and future. Scripture is ready at hand to support this well known belief. On at least three occasions in the Corinthian letters Paul speaks of those who are saved; “the preaching of the cross … unto us which are saved it is the power of God”: “the gospel … by which also ye are saved” 1 Cor.1.18; 15.2,3: “For we [the apostles] are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved” 2 Cor.2.15. In similar manner the present phase of salvation is spoken of even more frequently. An extremely relevant example is to be found in the letter to the Ephesians, a letter describing the spiritual wealth possessed by all believers in Christ. Linked to the riches bestowed by grace are the many references to the believer’s daily walk. Especially pertinent to this line of reasoning are the words of Eph.4.1,17: “I … beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” and “I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk.” Nor are words concerning salvation in its future and perfect aspect lacking. Paul can stir up the Roman saints to recognise “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” 13.11. In connection with rewards for the servants of God it is noted that unfaithfulness will bring about loss but the servant “himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” 2 Cor.3.15. Salvation itself is the free gift of God, the possession of which always produces a marked change in the life of any who profess to have received it. The demands of salvation are such that, where practical evidence is absent, such a profession is nothing less than an anomaly. We who belong to Christ by right of redemption are expected so to walk that the image of our Lord will be reflected in us. Salvation is not only from sin’s penalty but the believer is experiencing progressively deliverance from its power as well.
The Glorious Consummation
The work of salvation is so immensely glorious that it includes every redeeming undertaking by God to deliver men from their sinful and guilty estate and finally present them “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” Jude 24. So, God is not finished with His people yet. A radiant Day of glory lies ahead. Presently these physical bodies of ours are much subject to sin’s invasive tactics and, sadly, such is our constitution by nature that we often succumb in weakness. The agèd John says that the reason for writing his first epistle was “that ye sin not” 2.1. Since, having been born anew with the Holy Spirit indwelling, the believer has no incentive to sin in any way, yet he can and does. We are reminded in this letter that we are maintained in fellowship with God the Father by the all cleansing blood of the Lord Jesus and by confession and forsaking of sin. We have an Advocate with the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ “And He is the propitiation for our sins” 2.1,2. This gives all the more reason for the believer to earnestly long for that time when he will be finished forever with sin in all its forms. The full complement of believers in that blessèd day will be brought to the full “knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” Eph.4.13. “We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who will change our vile body (the body of our humiliation) that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body (body of Glory)” Phil.3.20,21. At that time, the Lord Jesus “shall … appear the second time without sin unto salvation” Heb.9.28. Meanwhile, the whole creation groans, waiting to be delivered from the bondage of corruption brought about by sin. “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. For we are saved by hope” Rom.8.20-24. Then will be heard “a great voice of much people” thundering throughout the universe “saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God,” Rev.19.1.
We who are in the good of “so great salvation” add our voices to that chorus with the words of Muir’s hymn,