The Middle Phase of Salvation
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Often times I have been confronted about my beliefs according to the Old Baptist Doctrines by those who are of worldly denominations. The beliefs that I have described to them are often times alien to their way of thinking. The thoughts of salvation by grace, election, predestination, and a totally sovereign God who does all things according to his will without the consent of man, is something that has never been entertained. Without a full understanding of these precious doctrines one can be left with a helpless feeling of insecurity, not having anything tangible to confirm his or her salvation. Quite contrary is the case of such a helpless sinner when he is made to realize God’s gift of Salvation. Rather than leaving one feeling insecure about his salvation, he is made to fully rejoice in the finished work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
With these thoughts I have often been asked, “If you truly believe that you are a child of God, regardless of your dedication to his service, why do you even attend Church?” I have even been asked, “Why do you pray if God has all power and has elected whom he will for eternal glory”? Though these questions seem somewhat weak they are legitimate. It is with this thought that I wish to explain, with the help of Almighty God, the purpose and blessings of worship service in God’s church. It is a wonderful doctrine that provides great comfort and assurance to mend the broken hearted.
In my most humble opinion the worship service is a time for the church body to unite together and to praise God for what he has done for us. It is a time when all the cares of the world should left outside the door so that we may be able to worship God acceptably. All manner of envy and strife and other such desires of the flesh to which Paul addresses in the 5th chapter of Galatians should not be desired in His worship service but rather joy, love, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance should be the fragrance among the saints.
Is it not enough to come together in the Spirit to worship God for who he is and what he has accomplished? Ought we not to rejoice at the sound of Salvation for ruined sinners? A salvation whereby Christ has redeemed his elect by his blood shed on Calvary? A salvation that has redeemed his elect from the wrath of hell to come? That alone, dear child of God, should be ample reason to come together singing praises to the Most High and shouting Amen to the sound of the Gospel trumpet.
It is truly a testimony of the great and everlasting love of God that he has provided even more than these wonderful reasons given to worship him. You say, more? How can there be more to this wonderful doctrine? Not only has he allowed us the freedom to worship him in spirit and truth but has also provided a Salvation in doing so, a deliverance from harm and evil and an unsettled heart. The salvation in consideration here refers to a timely salvation. One of which only a child of God is able to enter into. It is one of the three phases of Salvation that Paul speaks of in 2nd Corinthians chapter 1. In speaking about God, Paul says, “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us”.
It should first be explained, however, that any phase of salvation whether eternal or timely is only for the elect of God. No non-elect of God will ever enjoy the blessings of a timely salvation as he was never chosen of God before the foundation of the world. The same also holds true that a Child of God, though his eternal security in Christ is sure, may not receive the abundant blessings of God as far as a timely deliverance or salvation is concerned. With these thoughts, a child of God who has knowledge of his eternal salvation while enjoying the blessings of a timely salvation indeed has cause to rejoice.
SALVATIONS IN THE BIBLE
Not every salvation in the bible speaks of eternal salvation. To often this opinion of salvation is taken and as a result creates great confusion and difficulty in rightly dividing Gods Word. The confusion will not be found just merely by looking at one scripture, but if not rightly divided, comparing scripture with scripture will lead to a twisting and contorting of the word of God in a way as to pervert the gospel and its intended meaning. Such can be the case with the thoughts of salvation as mentioned in the bible.
In Matthew 8:24-25 it says, “And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish”. We must conclude that these disciples feared for their lives while they were on the ship. There was a great tempest upon the sea and it was tossing the boat around insomuch that they felt like this was going to be their doom. They had lost all hope of making it to the other side of the sea with Jesus. Their despair is evident by the words, “save us: we perish”. But was it eternal salvation that was on the disciple’s mind then? Some may argue that the disciples had a desire to be saved eternally before their lives were to end in the turbulent sea. The proceeding verse gives light as to the salvation under consideration. Verse 26 states, “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm”. When the sea was made calm the disciples received their salvation. They were no longer concerned about a salvation, having been already delivered, but only marveled at the great miracle that Jesus had performed. Assuming this was eternal salvation they desired, we read no where in these scriptures where Christ gave them what they so desperately asked for. We do read in these scriptures, however, that they desired to be saved and Christ calmed the sea. We would have to rationally conclude that the Salvation the disciples were asking for was timely.
Another example of a timely salvation can be found in Matthew 14:29-30. Here we read, “And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me”. Here we see a picture of Peter who by faith ventured out onto the water, walking towards his Savior. Having taken his eyes off Jesus and looking at the boisterous waves, he began to sink into the sea. His fears are the same as was related in the previous example. Peter was looking at his doom. He had a great fear that the sea would consume him and that his life would end. Again, this incident could be taken as one who desired his eternal salvation with Christ before his death. The Armenian preacher might say, “It’s never too late to accept Jesus, as long as it is before one breaths his last”. However, the salvation under consideration here is not of an eternal nature but of a timely nature. The proceeding verse also clears this misunderstanding. In Verse 31, 32 it states, “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased”. We see nowhere in this passage where Christ answered Peter by giving him eternal salvation. We do see, however, that Peter who through fear of death cried out to Jesus SAVE ME. And we see where Jesus answered his cries and stretched forth his hand and brought him back into the ship safely. It would be a blatant misinterpretation of these passages to assume anything than a timely salvation was given Peter.
It must also be added that with the previous examples, in both cases, these were disciples that Christ had saved. A disciple is defined as one who is disciplined of God. Surely they were already children of God before these events took place, if indeed they were disciples! And it is God who has called them disciples!
The two examples that have been given should more than confirm to the child of God the fact that the scriptures speak of more than one type of salvation. The scripture says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established”. At the risk of belaboring this point, I feel it necessary to mention one more example of a timely salvation found in God’s word.
In Acts chapter 16 we read where Paul and Silas were thrust into the inner prison after having received many stripes for commanding an evil spirit to come out of a certain damsel. At midnight Paul and Silas, in the jail, prayed and sang praises unto God. The result was that God created a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. This brought great fear upon the jailer who was charged to keep them safely and to insure they didn’t escape. The jailor, supposing that the prisoners had escaped, knew that the incident would result with the sentence of death for him. He then drew his sword to kill himself. Just then, Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here”. Verses 29-31 states, “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house”. The jailor was scared and trembling. But he had witnessed the great faith that Paul and Silas had shown. Even though they lay fast in stocks, having been beaten and cast into the inner prison, there was a since of contentment that could be seen and heard throughout all the jail. They took no thought of their condition but only rejoiced through prayer and singing to their Savior. They had their hearts on God and were not concerned about the situation they were in but only counted themselves blessed of God. It was a comfort, no doubt, which the Jailor desired. The Jailor indeed was in desperate need and desire of a salvation; a salvation that gave comfort and eased the troubled mind. This was the salvation that was given to them. This is evident by a couple of simple facts:
1st, the jailor took no thought for his life at first. His immediate response to the events that he perceived was to kill himself. He knew that death would come by his superiors if he did not first take his own life. It wasn’t until he realized that Paul and Silas hadn’t escaped that there might be hope for his life. A hope that could bring peace and the knowledge of a Savior that loved his elect so much that even the thoughts and worries of great tribulation or even death could be greatly diminished.
2nd, Paul and Silas responded to his question by answering, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house”. In this instance, if eternal salvation were obtained by one believing on the Lord Jesus Christ then we would have to submit that the jailor was also able to obtain eternal salvation for his household as well. So in that respect, one wouldn’t necessarily even have to believe in Christ Jesus to obtain eternal salvation so long as one member of the family does. This conclusion is as ridiculous as it sounds and as stated earlier, only twists and perverts the gospel of Christ. The jailor did indeed receive a salvation along with his family. The salvation they received was one of great comfort and joy. The scriptures conclude that they suffered no punishment as a result of what had taken place, but rather rejoiced in the Lord and were baptized.
Though the salvation mentioned in the above examples does not lend themselves to imply an eternal salvation, they are indeed a salvation wrought by God. In each case it was the hand of God that delivered them from their despair. It was God whom they were seeking for deliverance. And it is God, dear Saint, whom we ought to be seeking and earnestly praying for our deliverance here in this life: a deliverance from the storms of life that pass our way.
DESIRES FOR SALVATION
Salvation, as mentioned in the above examples, is the result of a God who is rich in mercy and grace towards his elect. I can think of many times that the Lord has delivered me from the mouth of the lion. At times I have been distant from him and disobedient to his will, nevertheless Gods hand was there to protect me and to keep me from danger. I am sure I am not even, in the least, aware of all the times God has shielded me from certain disaster. To this, my soul should ever be grateful and humble before my God.
God can and does deliver his elect from perils of this life. One needs not to be in God’s true church to have his merciful hands guiding him through the maze of snares and traps set by Satan and his angels. But I wish to speak of a certain Salvation among God’s children who are blessed to call the church their home. It is a salvation often times not understood or perhaps even realized, even among those in the church. Often times it is referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God. Many times this discussion, if brought up amongst a mixed crowd, invokes strange looks. The Kingdom of God, dear friend, is here and it is real! It can be felt and entered into through his church, which he has established here on earth. It is the Kingdom of Heaven brought down from above. It is as close as we can be in these mortal bodies to Heaven itself. Christ said in Luke 17:20-21, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you”. The passage refers to a kingdom in the present tense. One that can’t be seen with the natural eye, and one that is within (or among) us now. Even to the Armenian, it is hard for one not to admit that according to scripture there is a kingdom now. If not then we should look at a strong defense against salvation by works, as the Armenian world views it. It is believed that all one needs to do is to accept Jesus into their heart and thereby secure his eternal destiny. But Galatians chapter 5 speaks of several things that can prevent one from inheriting the kingdom of God. Such works of the flesh as envy, wrath, strife, hatred to mention a few are works that Paul says they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If this kingdom that Paul speaks of is Heaven itself or some kingdom to be set upon this earth at some latter day, my friends, no amount of accepting Jesus will secure my salvation. My carnal flesh hungers for that which is carnal.
Paul had a great understanding of the salvation that we speak of. Not only was Paul well acquainted with the timely salvation offered to the Saints of God, but also he had a great zeal and desire to have those of Gods people who were seeking such comfort and rest to also obtain it. Paul was considered as one who had “hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). In the 11th chapter of 2nd Corinthians Paul lays out between the 23rd and 28th verses all that he suffered. The sufferings that we may endure for Christ’s sake fail in comparison to all the trials that Paul withstood. I fear to think of my weak faith being tested with only one of the sufferings that Paul encountered. And even greater love had Paul towards his brethren so as to suffer for Christ’s sake that they may be partakers of Gods divine care and love
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy chapter 2, he encourages his “beloved son” Timothy to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”. Paul knew full well what the price would be for being a soldier of the cross. But then (in Verse 4) he gives Timothy the reason for the sacrifices that would be made; “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier”. What a strong encouragement these words should be for a child of God. To know that one may suffer and endure for Christ’s sake should indeed be reason to rejoice. I am afraid that I fall short of having ever suffered for Christ’s sake. It seems that all my trials and troubles can only be the result of what I have deserved, as I am mostly disobedient to God’s will and often times see myself running away from God instead of running towards.
Perhaps the clearest text that can be found showing a timely salvation is in 2nd Timothy 2:10. Paul writes, “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”. The writer here speaks of two salvations. The latter, called eternal glory is that phase or phases of salvation that was secured with God’s children at Calvary. A salvation void of mans hands and devised means. It is a salvation that has secured a child of God through the everlasting covenant. And will finally be realized and completed when Christ, at his appointed time, redeems soul, spirit and body with him in Heaven into immortal glory. This precious doctrine of salvation by grace into eternal glory is one doctrine that prohibits all other doctrines of being void. But notice that Paul did not dwell on the subject in this verse. He only mentions it in passing. It is also clear who the recipients of this salvation is, the elect. Paul rather dwells on the subject of obtaining another phase of salvation. He makes it clear by stating he has endured all things so that the elect may ALSO obtain this salvation. The using of the words “also” and “with” implies that it is associated with something else. The salvation that Paul is speaking of here is a timely salvation for the elect of God who are eternally secure in Christ. Though a child of God clearly has nothing to do with his being elected into eternal glory Paul seems to make it clear that we can have something to do with the timely salvation. Notice the words of Paul, “I endure all things”. Why do you endure all things Paul? “That they (the elect) may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus”. This, dear reader, must be a very precious salvation that Paul speaks of. He is willing to endure all his tribulations, not to “save” someone to heaven, but that they might enter into that rest. This salvation must indeed be wondrous. It must have been what caused him to pray and sing praises unto God with Silas while in that Philippian jail.
The Lord provides us with another glimpse showing the phases of salvation. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. Notice that the abundant life is only for those that Christ came to give eternal life; it is the same “they”.
This passage speaks both of an eternal and a timely salvation. The abundant life spoken of here refers to a greater degree of comfort and rest that a child of God can enter into while living in this life. While there are no degrees of death we do see in many instances in which a born again child of God can exhibit degrees of life. A prisoner who is bound in prison has life. His life, however, is not all that it could be. He is confined to an area that has little or no natural sunlight. He cannot enjoy the fresh breeze of springtime or the beautiful colors of fall. So many things are lacking in his life, yet he does still live. But when he is freed from the confines of the prison and released a free man, then is he able to freely run over the hills and mountains, breathe the clean air, and observe all the splendors of nature. Surely this mans life is more abundant in the latter end!
In Luke chapter 8 we read the story of the Gadaren man. The Gadaren man was one that lived among the tombs and therefore typifies a born again child of God who is in the wrong place. Notice his actions. He is crying and cutting himself with rocks! My dear friends, only a child of God who has a conscious of the wrong he is doing can show remorse for the way he is living his life. No doubt this child of God desired more. Paul did as well when he said, “for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not”. We can see that though he was living among the tombs, his life was nothing to be desired of. He had life, but not abundant life. After that Jesus had cast the legion of evil spirits out of him we see a different person. He was now a man who was rejoicing in his right mind and clothed, sitting at the feet of Jesus. He later went and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done for him. Thus he received life more abundantly.
It is no small contrast when viewed from a regenerated child of God who is bound by the law. Though born again, his knowledge of his just condemnation oft times subject him to a life of works and going about to establish his own righteousness. It is not until he hears the good news proclaimed of Christ and his Righteousness and how that Christ paid the debt on Calvary “to save a wretch like me” that he can begin to live life more abundantly. Christ said in Matthew 9:12, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick”. A physician is able to give a more abundant life to those who are already alive, and Christ is the greatest physician of them all.
Many places in God’s word can be used to show abundant life given. It was Israel who was first bound in Egypt then loosed and led into the wilderness. But it wasn’t until Israel crossed Jordan that they would have life in abundance. For in Canaan (a great type of the church) they would eat the grapes of the vineyards that were already there. The place was well watered and the area already had wells dug. It was called the land of milk and honey! A place where they no longer would be wondering around or in bondage, a place they could now call home.
A SALVATION IN GOD’S CHURCH
Such is God’s church. It is an oasis among the desert of thorns and briars. It is a place of abundant life, a place where a child of God can enter into and find peace and rest for the weary heart. It is a refuge for the wandering pilgrims and strangers who seek a better place. O’ what a glorious Savior is he! The psalmist said it so well in psalms 48:1-3, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge”. Zion is the city of our solemnities, it’s a quiet habitation, a place of broad rivers and streams.
Christ is our rock. He is steadfast and sure. He told peter, “Upon this rock will I build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Isaiah 28:16 states, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste”. The Gadaren man rushed towards his Savior, Jesus. He ran to him and fell down at his feet. The woman with the issue of blood had a great desire to see her “Physician” when she had heard of Jesus. She knew that a salvation from her vexed body could be obtained with just a touch of the hem of his garment. By dear friends, just a touch of his garment can give abundant life. It is in God’s church that his garment can be found, for that is where He is!
There are works for salvation. This salvation is not speaking of eternal salvation. But the salvation under consideration is found in his church. Jesus says in the 6th chapter of Luke that a man that heareth his sayings, and doeth them is “like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock”! The house built on this rock is sure and will endure the storms of life that beat upon it. Though the house may suffer damage and wear, it will continue to stand. But notice what Jesus said, “and digged deep”. The blessings in God’s church require digging, digging deep. One must dig past the dirt of the worldly things. Be willing to throw it aside and continue searching for that sure foundation. Jesus likened the kingdom of God in Matthew 13:44 “like unto a treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field”. He is diligent in searching for what is hid. And once he finds it he trades all that he has so that he might obtain the riches that are found within. We will not obtain these riches if first we are not willing to search, and then having found, willing to give up all worldly cares in order to posses it.
So many scriptures could be used to show the peace or salvation that is found in God’s church. But these jewels are not for everyone. Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). I believe that God’s church will always be “the little flock”. It is for those who are poor in spirit. The Lord tells us whom this wonderful Gospel and salvation is for. In Luke 4:18-19 Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”!
O’ how my soul longs for rest. The fight with my carnal nature is often times more than I can stand. But what great mercies are shown through his love for the saints that he would even permit one such as I to enter into such a holy place. It is a place where brethren and sisters rejoice together in song and praises to God, a place where the saints of God overlook who I am with hugs and tears of joy. My heart longs for that rest! Paul says in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”! Amen!
Paul said, “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us”. The three phases of salvation as mentioned here begin in Calvary and end with God’s people in glory. Christ did deliver us from so great a death from the penalty of sin with his blood shed on Calvary. He doth deliver us now, in time, from the power of sin that we might be able to worship him acceptably and be blessed in doing so. And we trust that he will yet deliver us from the presence of sin. One great day the Lord will descend to redeem his chosen. Then shall be brought to pass the saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In conclusion I refer back to the question often times asked by others, “If you truly believe that you are a child of God, regardless of your dedication to his service, why do you even attend Church?” There is a wonderful salvation for God’s saints while in this life! I trust that this answer, dear brethren and sisters, can be found deep in your heart! If so, praise God Almighty! May the Lord continue to bless his church and those who are in it, that those fortunate enough may be able to commune with the wondrous and marvelous King.