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November 24 Today’s Reading: Romans 12-15
“Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”
What a blessed portion of Holy Scripture we have before us today! Romans 12 begins by calling us to the most reasonable thing in the world — complete devotion to our ever-gracious Lord Jesus! Romans 13 assures us that our heavenly Father, the sovereign of the universe, rules all the rulers of this world. In the 14th and 15th chapters God the Holy Spirit teaches us to love our brethren and bear one another’s infirmities. All of this is written in the light of the glorious, blessed hope that is ours in Christ. —“Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”
It is a common mistake among many to think of salvation only in terms of the experience of faith. But the Word of God never limits salvation to a time, a place, or an experience. When Paul writes, “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed,” he is clearly speaking of salvation as an ongoing process of grace. It is a process of grace that began in eternity past before the beginning of time, is experienced by faith in Christ in time, and shall be consummated in eternity to come when time shall be no more.
This great work of salvation is the work of God alone. It was planned by God, purchased by God, produced by God, is preserved by God, and shall be perfected by God. From start to finish, “Salvation is of the Lord!” Therefore God alone shall have the praise for it. God’s work of grace that is called “salvation” must be understood as a work consisting of three things.
Salvation is what God has done for us in Christ. In eternity, before the worlds were made, the Lord God loved us, chose us, predestinated us to be his own, adopted us, accepted us, and blessed us, justified us, sanctified us, and glorified us in and with Christ (Ephesians 1:3-6; Romans 8:29-30; Jude 1). Our salvation was arranged and accomplished in that covenant of grace ordered in all things and sure made between the three Persons of the holy Trinity before the world began. In that everlasting covenant, God the Father became our Father, God the Son became our Surety, and God the Spirit became our Sanctifier. In time, our salvation was obtained by the obedience of Christ as our Substitute. We have been forgiven, justified, and sanctified by the merits of his righteousness and shed blood.
Salvation is also what God has done and is doing in us. We were dead. He made us alive (Ephesians 2:1-4). He made us new creatures in Christ. He gave us a new heart, a new will, and a new nature in sovereign regeneration. He produced repentance and faith in us (Ephesians 2:8-10). He is working in us to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), and preserving us in life and grace by his almighty power (1 Peter 1:5).
The Lord God will save us through all the days of our earthly pilgrimage (Isaiah 41:10-11; 43:1-7). I do not know what troubles we may face tomorrow; but God will not forsake us now. He will finish his work in us. He who has kept us and is keeping us will keep us still by his infallible, unfailing grace (Malachi 3:6). In the hour of temptation, God will save us. When Satan assaults, God will save us. Though trials come, one upon the heels of another, God will save us.
As we have been saved by the decree of God, the blood of Christ, and the power of his Spirit, and are being saved by his almighty grace, so we hope that we shall yet be saved. In this sense our salvation is yet future. When the Lord God is finished with us, when our salvation is complete, we will be exactly conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). And he shall at last present us faultless before his throne, and in the ages to come shall “show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
We have good reason to anticipate the completion of our salvation by the grace of God. Our salvation will not be complete until the final restoration of all things under the dominion of King Jesus. But at God's appointed time, that shall come (1 Corinthians 15:24-25). All Christ’s enemies shall lick the dust before him and acknowledge his rightful dominion. He will rid the earth of all rebels against his throne, either by grace or by wrath. And sin shall be purged from God's creation. The glory of Christ shall be established everywhere and in all things. In heaven, earth, and hell everybody and everything shall glorify our Lord Jesus Christ. In that day we shall be conformed to the exact likeness of Christ our Savior. Then, but not till then, our salvation shall be complete (Romans 8:17-23). God will bring our bodies into union with our souls in perfect glorification. Then we shall be saved from all sin, all the consequences of sin, and all the sorrow that follows sin. We have been saved. We are being saved. And, soon, we shall be saved!