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November 9 Today’s Reading: Acts 4-5
“Salvation” — What a blessed word! It is perhaps the greatest word in the language of man. I know it is the most blessed word there is to a lost, condemned sinner. “Salvation” is a very inclusive term. It takes in all the blessings of grace and all the bliss of glory. Salvation is the cleansing of our consciences from all guilt, the redemption of our souls from the curse of the law, the renewing of our hearts by the Spirit of God, and the deliverance of our spirits from the reigning power and dominion of sin. To be saved is to be loved and chosen of God, justified in Christ, born again by the Holy Spirit, forgiven of all sin, adopted into the family of God, and accepted in the Beloved. If I am saved, I am an heir of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ! If I have salvation, I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption in Christ. Salvation is the undoing of all that Adam did, and more. — Salvation is the total restoration of man from his fallen state. Salvation in Christ fixes our standing more secure than it was before we fell. Grace finds us broken in pieces by the sin and fall of our father Adam, defiled, stained, corrupt, and condemned. Salvation heals our wounds, takes away our curse, washes us clean, and sets our feet on the Rock Christ Jesus. And in its final end, salvation lifts us up above all principality and power, and crowns us with eternal glory in Christ, the King of heaven.
That which Paul states with regard to his deliverance from physical death by the hands of wicked men is a very good declaration of God’s great work of grace in the salvation of our souls by Christ. — “We had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). Salvation is the deliverance of our souls from the sentence of death by the grace of God.
Allow me to tell you my own experience of grace. There was a time when I was “pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that I despaired even of life.” There was a time when the Lord God caused me to see that I was a lost sinner, cursed, condemned under the just sentence of death, eternal death in hell. When I had the sentence of death in my soul, I was made to see that I should not, must not, and could not trust in myself. When the law of God had done its work, I was altogether shut up to Christ, graciously, sweetly forced to trust “in God which raiseth the dead.” Yes, “salvation” is a big, big word. It includes all that is involved in delivering our souls from the sentence of death into “the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” If you will search the Scriptures, you will find that salvation is described throughout the Book of God in various tenses. In fact, when we speak of “salvation” in Bible terms, we must recognize that it is God’s work alone, and that it is a work with four tenses.
The Eternal Past
Salvation is a work of the eternal past. The Holy Spirit tells us in Hebrews 4:3 that all the works of God involved in this thing called salvation “were finished from the foundation of the world.” God’s elect were chosen in eternal love (Jeremiah 31:3), redeemed by the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), accepted in the Beloved and blessed with all spiritual blessings in him before the world began (Ephesians 1:3-6), justified, sanctified, preserved, and glorified in Christ by God’s decree in old eternity (Romans 8:29-30; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Jude 1).
The Historic Past
The Spirit of God also declares that our salvation was finished by the obedience of Christ as our Substitute in the historic past. When our Savior cried, “It is finished,” our salvation was finished (John 19:30; Hebrews 9:12). Redemption and righteousness were finished by Christ when He died as our Substitute upon the cursed tree. He brought in everlasting righteousness for us, put away our sins by the sacrifice of Himself, and made us the righteousness of God. When He arose from the dead, we rose with Him. When He sat down in heaven, we sat down with Him.
The experience of grace in salvation is also spoken of as something accomplished in the historic past. The experience of salvation involves that which we come to experience personally in time. It is the experience of the new birth, the experience of receiving Christ. There came a time when we were born again by God’s omnipotent mercy and grace, being called from death to life by irresistible mercy, given faith in Christ and sealed in Him by the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:1-9; Psalm 34:6). Now we stand in grace experimentally (Romans 4:25-5:11).
The Present Tense
This thing called salvation is frequently spoken of in the present tense. We who trust Christ are being saved. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that the preaching of the gospel is “unto us who are being saved” the power of God. In Romans 13:11 we read, “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Yes, I have been saved; and I am being saved. I have come to Christ; and I am coming to Christ (1 Peter 2:4). I am being saving in this sense: I am “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5), being continually forgiven of all my sins by God’s faithfulness, justice, and grace in Christ (1 John 1:9-2:2).
The Future Tense
The Scriptures speak often of our salvation in the future tense, too. Truly, with regard to this matter of our salvation, “the best is yet to come.” There is a very real sense in which the salvation of our souls is a salvation yet to be revealed (1 Peter 1:3-9). What a glorious revelation that shall be!