The Bible knows nothing of a salvation that is only temporary.
In the previous chapters we have considered fifteen of the great scriptural doctrines relating to our salvation. We have seen that "repentance" means a change of mind, and has reference to that change of mind both about himself and God which the sinner has when he comes in faith to God through Christ. "Conversion" means a turning about, which we do when we are saved. "Regeneration" ("making new") speaks of the fact that "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (II Cor. 5:17). And "redemption" means that God has bought us back to Himself by the precious blood of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
By the act of "justification," God has pronounced every believing sinner righteous, for in "forgiveness" He has removed our sins from us, "as far as the east is from the west" (Psa. 103:12).
We have "assurance" of these things by the simple fact that "he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I John 5:12). By "reconciliation" through the cross of Christ, we have had a thorough change wrought in our hearts toward God, from enmity to trust, from hatred to love. Christ Himself is the "propitiation" for our sins, having satisfied God's righteousness by His shed blood.
By "adoption," God has given the place of full sonship, with its privileges and responsibilities, to every believer. In "sanctification" He has set us apart eternally to Himself. We learn from "election" that "He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4); whereas "foreknowledge" assures us that God knew us as His own from all eternity. And in "predestination" He has marked out that every believer will share the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, "that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29).
All these priceless and precious things are ours simply by belief in the "Gospel," "how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (I Cor. 15:3, 4).
Following these fifteen subjects that relate to salvation in Christ, we come to a consideration of "salvation" itself.
Just what do we mean when we say that a person is saved? What is included in salvation? What did the Lord Jesus mean when He said: "I am the door; by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9)? What did Peter mean, when he said of the Lord Jesus: "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12)? And what did Paul mean, when he wrote: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9, 10)?
Salvation is the great inclusive word expressing God's gift of eternal life to believing sinners. The Gospel itself is said to be "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [Gentile]" (Rom. 1:16).
The word "salvation" carries in it the thought of rescue, or deliverance; safety; and soundness. The saved person has been rescued from sin and its penalty, which is death; he is kept and protected by God and is made every whit whole.
God offers only one way of salvation, and that is through the death and resurrection of His Son, personally believed in and received. Paul wrote: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (I Tim. 1:15). Our Lord Himself said: "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10). "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Thus salvation is altogether by God's grace, for He gave His only begotten Son to die for us, that we might be saved. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9). "God, who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (II Tim. 1:8, 9). "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Tit. 2:11).
Ephesians 2:8, cited above, clearly tells us, along with many other scriptures, that salvation comes to us simply by believing. "For by grace are ye saved through faith." It is not faith plus baptism. It is not faith plus church membership. It is not faith plus restitution. It is not even faith plus tears. It is only simple faith in God's dear Son, Who loved us and gave Himself for us. "What must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:30, 31). Peter says that, though we do not see our Lord Jesus Christ, "yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of our souls" (I Pet. 1:8, 9).
God's salvation is eternal. The Bible knows nothing of a salvation that is only temporary, which may be possessed and then lost or forfeited. We read of our Saviour, that "though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:8, 9). Paul writes to Timothy about his sufferings for the sake of the Gospel, and says: "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes; that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (II Tim. 2:10). The Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11), said: "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one" (John 10:28-30).
The salvation that God offers is complete and perfect. There is no such thing as being partially saved. Nor is it possible for one person to be more saved than another. He who has been saved fifty minutes is as completely and eternally saved as the person who has been saved fifty years. To every believing sinner the Lord Jesus says: "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace" (Lk. 7:50), and while "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; unto us who are saved it is the power of God" (I Cor. 1:18).
"The salvation of God" (Acts 28:28), given by grace to all who believe—"for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13)—is in three phases: past, present, and future. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we shall be saved. We have been saved from sin's penalty, we are being saved from sin's power, and we shall be saved from sin's very presence.
Looking at the past aspect of our salvation, let us notice that we are said to be already saved, in possession of an eternal salvation. God "hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (II Tim. 1:9). "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Tit. 3:5-7). "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the LORD JEHOVAH, is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation" (Isa. 12:2).
We who have been saved also have a present salvation—from the snares of Satan, the allurements of the world, and the lusts of the flesh. Our Saviour lives in resurrection glory above, to give us this present salvation by His Spirit who dwells in us. "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25). "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom. 5:10).
This day-by-day salvation from sin becomes ours as we look to the Lord Jesus and trust Him, "for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). As we trust Him in simple faith, He works in us and for us. Thus we are told: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12, 13).
There is a future salvation for believers, too, and the Word of God has much to say about this "hope of salvation" (I Thess. 5:8). We are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 1:5-7).
This future salvation, then, will be ours "at the appearing of Jesus Christ." For one thing, our bodies will then be saved. Now, "even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Rom. 8:23-25). The Lord's coming will also save His own from the time of wrath that is to come upon this earth, the Tribulation. "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Rom. 5:8, 9). "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5:9).
In the light and expectation of the Lord's imminent coming, we should live "godly in Christ Jesus" (II Tim. 3:12). "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:11-14).
All believers share "the common salvation" (Jude 3) purchased for us by the blood of Christ and given to us by God's grace. There is no other way to be saved, and "how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation" (Heb. 2:3)? Reader, if you are not saved, do not neglect! To do so is to your eternal loss. Come to Him who said: "I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9).
If there is salvation there must be a Saviour, and God's dear Son is that One. He has saved us from our sins: Who hath saved us...by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ" (II Tim. 1:9,10). He saves us daily from the pitfalls of the way: "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling...the only wise God our Saviour" (Jude 24, 25). And He will perfect and complete our salvation when He comes, "For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3:20, 21).
"Salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9).
Copied for WholesomeWords.org from Great Doctrines Relating to Salvation by John B. Marchbanks. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1970. Chapter 16.
Selections from Great Doctrines Relating to Salvation