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November 30 Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 16-2 Corinthians 3
“Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver:
in whom we trust that he will yet delver us.”
2 Corinthians 1:10
That which Paul here 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. Salvation is the deliverance of our souls from the sentence of death by the grace of God.
There was a time when, as Paul put it in verse 8, 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 and graciously and sweetly forced to trust “in God which raiseth the dead.” Now, trusting him, I write as one sinner to another about God my Savior, “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.”
“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.” Paul speaks here of this salvation in different tenses: past deliverance, present deliverance, and future deliverance. If you will search the Scriptures, you will find that salvation is described throughout the Book of God in various 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). We were named the children of God, 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,” it was finished (John 19:30; Hebrews 9:12). Redemption and righteousness were performed by Christ and 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. We who now live unto God have been saved. There came a time when we who were dead in trespasses and in sins were born again by God’s omnipotent mercy and grace, when we were called from death to life by irresistible mercy, a time when we were given faith in Christ and sealed in him by the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:1-9; Psalm 34:6). Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we received the atonement, we received justification, and we received life eternal. Now we stand in grace experimentally (Romans 4:25-5:11). If you would be justified before God in your soul, if you would be saved, if you would have Christ, you must believe on the Son of God. You must receive him (John 1:11-13).
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 saved 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). We rejoice in that which the Lord our God has done for us and in us. But, we rejoice to know that his work for us and in us is not over yet. There is more yet to come, more certain to come. It is written, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
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). Oh, what a revealing day that great day awaiting us in the end shall be!