Salvation: Nature of Salvation
God’s Full Salvation
By Eugene Garner
The topic discussed in this treatise is perhaps the most profound of all Bible subjects. It is one to which every individual man must, at one time or another, give serious consideration. The Scriptures reveal that the blessed Spirit-God will, in His own time, convince every responsible individual of Adam’s race that he is a sinner and must look to Divine grace as the source of this — the greatest of all man’s needs — SALVATION.
By ‘salvation’ is meant the deliverance from sin’s guilt and safety from its consequences. By “GOD’S FULL SALVATION” is meant all that God graciously offers to man through the Lord Jesus Christ. This includes deliverance from the guilt of sin, day by day deliverance from the power of sin in our lives and an ultimate deliverance from the very presence of sin unto glorious nearness to Christ in the coming age.
The religious world neither understands nor appreciates the teachings of the Word relative to the “fulness” of God’s salvation. The common idea seems to be that the all-important thing is to “miss hell.” God’s word, however, places little, if any, emphasis upon this first step. It rather advocates a persistence in faith which will “follow on to KNOW the Lord” and share in the fulness of God’s salvation—even in millenial and kingdom blessings. Offered, as it is, to poor, weak, sinful and undeserving men, this salvation is not obtained in its fulness except as the believer adds to his ‘first-faith’ the Christian virtues which come through a faith-walk — with hearts and affections centered on Jesus — and thereby “makes” his “calling and election sure,” (2 Pet. 1:5-11).
Let it be understood that this writer makes no claim of speaking for anyone else. He has not stopped to ask whether wiser minds than his will approve or criticize. Neither has he set out, by logic and human wisdom, to convince the skeptical of the error of their ways. It is his purpose to submit what he earnestly believes is the teaching of God’s word on the matter—not in a scholarly thesis aimed at provoking theological clamor, but in as simple a manner as possible, praying that it will arouse those who take their spiritual standing seriously to a searching anew of their own hearts and the Word of God.
Six things will be discussed relative to this salvation: (1) The Need of Salvation, (2) The Source of Salvation, (3) The Scope of Salvation, (4) The Divine Purpose in Salvation, (5) The Way of Salvation, and (6) God’s Invitation for Men to Avail Themselves of this Salvation. When these things have been discussed, the author will leave the rest to the Lord — whether this work shall be unto men as a savor of “life unto life” or of “death unto death.”
The Universal Need of Salvation
It is not the revealed duty of God’s servants to convince their fellow-men that they stand in need of salvation. That task is such a great one that the all-wise God has not left it to the wisdom of His creatures. The Bible says that the Spirit-God will faithfully perform this task—convincing of sin, righteousness and judgment. However, this blessed Spirit has breathed upon holy men in ages past and has borne them along as they recorded a perfect revelation of man’s need and God’s provision for that need. By turning to this Word of inspiration you may read of man’s need . . . . and may the blessed Spirit-God accompany it with Divine power to every needy heart.
In the early pages of inspiration is recorded the fact that man, through transgression, fell from a position of blessed fellowship with his Creator. Sin brought separation …. death. Concerning the universality of sin Paul declares in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon ALL MEN, for that ALL HAVE SINNED.” As to man’s natural state, the Word declares. “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, NO, NOT ONE,” (Rom. 3:10-12).
The unalterable decree of the Most High is this: “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die,” (Ezek. 18:4). The apostle Paul preached that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23). He went still further to declare that “the wages of sin is death, (Rom. 6:23). The sentence of ‘condemnation’ is already passed upon the unbeliever who must “give account of himself to God,” (Rom. 14:12).
In this matter there is no hope of help through appealing to some fellow-creature. Each naked individual must stand before Him who searches hearts and reveals secrets. Earthly help will not avail. Man cannot, at that time, look to his riches, his deeds of charity, his morality—-or even his fleshly religion. The best that he can do toward saving himself, apart from faith in Christ, is less than nothing—-and vanity. Well has Isaiah said concerning his own people in the flesh, “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,” (Isa. 54:6). No man dare hope to win the Divine favor upon the basis of flesh-righteousness. Of such God cannot, and WILL NOT, approve.
Man is at enmity against God. He cannot hope to obtain reconciliation, peace and salvation by his own efforts—–for God cannot, with any degree of satisfaction, look upon sin. If man is to be delivered from sin, with its power and consequences, he must be delivered by another. This necessitates the consideration of:
The Source of Salvation
While in the belly of the great fish, Jonah acknowledged a great truth. He declared, “Salvation is of the Lord,” (Jonah 2:9). The earlier that sinful men arrive at the realization of this fact the better it will be for them. There is within man NO INHERENT GOODNESS. Because of man’s inability to do any righteous act, by nature, salvation is, and must forever be, entirely according to grace. From start to finish, from beginning to end, from first to last, from alpha to omega, “salvation is of the Lord.”
Soon after the fall of man in Eden’s garden, the Lord God made a glorious promise that the “seed of the woman” would bruise the serpent’s head. Then when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, that He might redeem mankind from the bondage and slavery of sin. . . that He might set men in the position of “heir-sons and give them His Spirit—enabling them to cry “Abba Father.”
His birth was announced to lowly shepherds by the angels who said, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL PEOPLE. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Lk. 2:10-11). There was a righteous and just man living in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. The Spirit had assured him that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. “And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, FOR MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THY SALVATION, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel,” (Lk. 2:27-32).
Jesus declared His mission to earth as one on His “Father’s business” and revealed that it was to “seek and to save that which was lost.” John the Baptist declared Him to be the “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” In fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (Isa. 53:5-6).
The Son of man lived a perfect life. His enemies were put to flight with the challenge “Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me,” (Jn. 8:46)? In providing salvation, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto the death of Calvary’s cross that He might bring us to God……being put to death in the flesh, but springing to life in the Spirit.
Not only is salvation “of the Lord,” but the Word is plain in saying that “Salvation belongeth to the Lord,” (Psa. 3:8). As evidence of this fact, we hear the Psalmist praying, after realization of his great sin, “restore unto me the joy of THY SALVATION,” (Psa. 51:12).
Isaiah has said, “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). Hear the perfect confidence and instruction of David. “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He ONLY is my rock and MY SALVATION: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us,” (Psa, 62:5-8).
The Lord Jesus Christ is our salvation—–for He it is Who was “made to be sin for us” that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He is the One who bare our sins in His own body on the tree of the cross. He is the One who became our substitute and let us, through grace, go perfectly free. “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). Since Jesus has completely “satisfied’ Divine justice regarding the sins of those constantly trusting Him, He is the SOURCE OF OUR SALVATION.“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”
The Scope of Salvation
Contrary to the general views of the religious world, GOD’S COMPLETE SALVATION Is threefold. It includes: (1) Salvation from hell—with its torments and fears, (2) Salvation of the soul (life)—giving deliverance from and victory over sin in this present life which robs God’s children of real Christian joy, and (3) An ultimate and final glory salvation which is nothing short of deliverance from the very presence of sin unto participation in Kingdom-glory — as we are made conformable unto the image of Jesus Christ Who is the firstborn among many brethren.
Traditional teaching, concerning salvation, places emphasis upon “missing hell” and going off into some mystical heaven after death. The impression is left, by such teaching, that the most important thing in life is simply to trust in Jesus at one particular time—-thus securing salvation from hell and all the benefits of heaven. Such a teaching, not only is unscriptural, but results most often in loose living which produces lukewarmness and indifference in the churches. No individual has salvation “in the bag” upon the basis of a “first-trust.” Since Salvation includes participation in resurrection, glorification and the “reward of the inheritance,” it is not a matter of certainty for any individual except as he “makes it sure” by a walk of faith. Since Bible salvation always includes this deliverance from the power and presence of sin unto glorification and reward, it cannot, in its fulness, be referred to as a PRESENT POSSESSION!
No person who depends upon Jesus Christ as his sin-bearer is ever in danger of hell. He may be absolutely sure, upon the basis of God’s Word, that he is forever delivered from the torments and sufferings of the pit. He may rest in full assurance that he is “not condemned and “shall not come into condemnation” but is already “passed from death into life” as regards deliverance from hell. But he CANNOT, upon the basis of that first-trust, claim GOD’S FULL SALVATION.
Salvation includes deliverance from the power of sin in the life.. . .but many who have first trusted, with reference to deliverance from hell, have yielded their lives to sin and have been overcome thereby. In seeking to gain the world they have lost their souls—-their lives. Deliverance from the power of sin is given only to those who, by faith, look to Jesus to supply that daily need. He has faithfully promised to make a way of escape for those who are tempted, but except we look to Him for a daily supply of grace to endure we will soon become entangled in the snare of the Devil. Paul warned the Hebrew Christians against “failing of the grace of God” and being “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Power and victory over sin can be ours only as we realize our own inability—-only as we see ourselves as weak and look to the all-powerful One to supply our particular need. Paul admonished the Philippian saints to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” He assured them, however, that this could not be done in the energies of the flesh, but through the working of God within them—–giving both the desire and power to do that which would be pleasing in His sight, (Phil. 2:12-13).
In acquiring God’s Full Salvation we must follow on to KNOW the Lord. The Psalmist suggests the means by which we may obtain such knowledge, “The entrance of thy word giveth light.” Light is that which ‘makes manifest.’ We stand in great need of seeing ourselves as God sees us. We are admonished, after being saved from hell, to “grow in the grace and knowledge” of our Lord Jesus Christ. James advocates, “But be ye DOERS of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed,” (Jas. 1:21-25).
In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy he speaks of the Word of God being able to make wise “unto salvation” through faith which is in Jesus Christ. Then he adds, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works,” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the apostle again refers to the power of the Word of God in delivering men from the power and influence of sin in this present life. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water BY THE WORD, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” (Eph. 5:25-27).
With reference to God’s Complete Salvation, we are presently “saved by hope.” As Paul says, “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 we see not, then do we with patience wait for it,” (Rom. 8:24-25). This hope of the child of God is not mere wishful thinking, but it is faith’s laying hold upon the promise of God. John has said that “Every man that hath this hope in him PURIFIETH himself, even as he is pure,” (1 Jn. 3:3). Thus purified, the earnest of the Spirit produces righteousness, joy and peace in the heart. Those things then become experimental realities—-which is something quite different from claiming to have them, upon the basis of a first-trust, without actually experiencing them. Then, with faith in Him to deliver us from the power of sin, we may follow on to know the Lord more intimately. In this sense, our salvation is now “Nearer than when we first believed.”
The final thing which I would mention, regarding the scope of God’s salvation, is an ultimate deliverance from the very presence of sin into glory, honor, heirship and rewards in the coming age. It includes a “better resurrection” unto glorification—-being conformed to the very image of the Son of God. This is the salvation to which God elects, chooses and predestinates. Not all those saved from hell are of the elect. Neither will all those who have escaped hell participate in the fulness of God’s salvation. This belongs only to those who have followed on to know the Lord- —to those who have, through diligent faith, made their “calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10). To these only is promised an abundant entrance into the age-kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This complete and ultimate salvation is not attained anywhere short of the Kingdom of Christ. The Millennium is often referred to as the “day of salvation.” Complete salvation is not revealed experimentally until the casting down of Satan. God then steps in to despoil His enemy, and ours, and to deliver us completely from his wiles. In Revelation 12:10, referring to the time of the casting down of Satan with his hosts, the word says, “Now is come SALVATION, and strength, and the KINGDOM OF OUR GOD, and the power of his Christ.”
When Paul speaks in Romans 11 saying, of the Jews, that “through their fall SALVATION IS COME to the Gentiles” he did not refer to Gentiles having, for the first time, deliverance from hell. Gentiles, many of them, had been saved prior to that time. One splendid example of this is the case of the Ninevites. Paul refers to that “salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” which is, in this age, being offered for the first time to Gentile peoples. They may now be, by faith, grafted into the stock of Israel and made partakers of the covenant blessings and glory which formerly belonged only to the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. This glory salvation is available only to those who are properly identified with Christ, in His body, the church—-and who, in that position, walk by faith.
Paul emphasizes the fact that suffering with Christ is an absolute necessity if we are to share with Christ in the fulness of His glory-salvation. We are “joint-heirs” with Christ ONLY “if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together,” (Rom. 8:17). Suffering is the inevitable lot of all those who would truly follow the Christ. In Paul’s words, “Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” We know, from God’s word, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in His elect people.
When we are properly identified with Jesus Christ, in His church, we may say, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day tong; we are accounted as sheet for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Rom. 8:35-39).
The Purpose Of God In Salvation God is not under obligation to save any man—-except as He has committed Himself to do so. Had He left man to his ruin in Eden He would have been perfectly just. But God loves His creatures who are made in His own image. He desires love in return. The purpose of God in salvation, especially in full and complete salvation, is that it might be to the praise of the glory of His grace. In the first chapter of Ephesians we learn that predestination and adoption by Jesus Christ to Himself is according to the good pleasure of His will “To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Again, in the same chapter, he speaks of the divine purpose “in the dispensation of the fulness of time” to bring together IN ONE all things IN CHRIST—-to give to them an inheritance, to which He has predestinated them “to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” One thing which God desires cannot be had apart from the creature made in His image—–that is praise for His grace. That we may praise and adore Him, He provides for us a perfect and complete salvation.
The Way of Salvation
In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life: No man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” The declaration of Peter is that “to Him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive the remission of sins,” (Acts 10:43). Since man has no goodness of his own, is not righteous and certainly cannot save himself; God has purposed to save according to His own free grace. Though men are sinners, enemies of God, rebels against His holiness—still His love “will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” While sin pays off in death, God offers to those who will believe Him “the gift of God” which is “eternal life through Jesus Christ.”
God had declared that sin should end in death. His justice could not be satisfied anywhere short of death. But in order that men might be set free, God himself provided the sacrificial offering in the person of His only begotten Son. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and gave His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus humbled Himself unto the death of the cross–tasting death for every man.
The condition upon which we become recipients of this salvation is FAITH—-dependence, reliance upon, trust in Him. According to Paul, it is “of faith that it might be by grace,” (Rom. 4:16). Through faith in Him—-even through the first step of faith—-man is set free from the danger and torments of hell. Through a faith-look to Jesus man’s need is supplied day by day that he may live a life of victory over sin. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 Jn. 5:4). Through a WALK of faith—that is, by a faith-obedience of the Master’s command—we shall ultimately be delivered from the very presence of sin into glory where we may ever praise and adore our gracious Lord Jesus.
God’s Invitation To Man
Not only has God made the provision whereby men may be delivered from the chains of sin to a crown of glory and reward, but He also invites men to accept of His gracious offer. In the closing verses of the Bible an invitation is extended: “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever wilt, let him TAKE the water of life freely,” (Rev. 22:17). But so long as men look elsewhere they will not find salvation. In Isaiah 45:22 we read another of God’s invitations, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
During the personal ministry of Jesus He invited men to come unto Himself, in this present life, for BEST. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” (Matt. 11:28-30). This is not, by any means, an invitation to lost sinners to escape hell. It is, rather, an invitation for those already saved from hell and belonging to the Lord as a “special people” to enter NOW, by faith, into BEST and experience something of the joys and blessings that belong to the coming age. We sometimes sing that old song:“On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand;
And cast a wistful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.” This ought not to be. The unbelief of Israel caused those who came out of Egypt (with the exception of two) to fall short of entering Canaan. Though God commanded, they would not enter in “lest their little ones perish by the giants.” Therefore, they were destroyed in the wilderness. There is no need for us to stand ‘wishing’ when the blessed Lord admonishes and even ‘invites’ us to enter now!! Entrance into the “rest” which remains for the people of God is NOT promised upon the basis of the first step of faith. It is, rather, conditioned upon a complete surrender of the life to a walk of faith. To claim God’s full blessings we must cross the Jordan (full conversion) and then “tread the land with the soles of our feet.” It is utter folly to stand on the east bank of the Jordan—–casting a ‘wistful eye’, to that fair and happy land—–for except we tread with the soles of our feet, fighting all the way, there will be no possession there. When we are FULLY identified with the Lord the reproach of Egypt is rolled away and we have the Captain of our salvation to guide us in person. But even in that blessed position, we are admonished to “fear” lest we miss the promise, and to “labor” lest any man fall after the same example (Israel) of unbelief.
The blessings of “Full Salvation,” to which men are invited, includes a sharing with Christ in the glories, beauties and blessings of the New Jerusalem. Those who are saved from hell but have not followed on to know the Lord will walk OUTSIDE and “in the light” of this glorious city. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city,” (Rev. 22:14). God’s invitation to men includes an offer of that high quality of life which pertains to the coming age—-and which assures participation in Full Salvation. But to some He complained, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life” (Jn. 5:40).
Do YOU stand today under the sentence of condemnation and death? Are you living day by day under constant fear of wrath judgment and hell? Is the blessed Spirit-God convincing you now of your need of Jesus? If so, then you may be saved from fear and danger of hell this moment if you will commit your case unto Jesus—-fully trust Him to save. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house,” (Acts 16:31). “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” (Pr. 3:5-6). Having trusted the Lord for deliverance from hell, we are to walk by faith—-submitting to baptism at the hands of the church of which He is the head, and then yielding our lives to Him that we may grow in grace and knowledge of Him. By a faith-performance of these things we make our “calling and election sure” will neither be “barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and have the assurance that we “shall never fail.” “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” (1 Pet. 1:5-11).
It is with a prayerful heart that this treatise is submitted for your consideration. May the all-wise Father be pleased to use it in rescuing men from hell and causing them to walk by faith that they may one day know experimentally the fulness of GOD’S GREAT SALVATION!!