So Great Salvation
By F.J. Turley.
Salvation is a great Biblical term and doctrine. In it’s various connotations it means, deliverance, liberty, soundness The writer to the Hebrews in chapter 2,verse 3 calls it “so great salvation” It is of course great in many ways, because it takes up such a lot space in the Bible makes it great. It is great because of the tremendous price that was paid to secure it. It meant the death and the shedding of the precious blood of Christ on the cross. The greatness is found in the fact that it eliminates human efforts and thus magnifies the grace of God. For although we live in an age of great human advancement and achievement in scientific, medical and educational spheres, with all the knowledge man has, he has not as yet been able to bring about a real moral and spiritual transformation. It is as the Bible says that “we are saved by grace” Eph.2.8. Salvation is great also because it is an expression not only of God’s ability to save, but of his love towards mankind. No doubt John.3:16 is perhaps one of the best known and loved of all scriptures, for it exposes the passion of the heart of God. He so loved the world he sent his Son to save it. He did not plan the way of salvation because he had to, or felt obligated to do it. He saved us because he loved us. Paul cries out in Gal.2.20 “he loved me and gave himself for me” Again salvation is great by virtue of it’s endless purpose. We are dealing with a salvation that looks beyond the scene of time right into eternity. Jesus said “whosoever believeth should not perish but have everlasting life,…” It is almost inconceivable that a humble preacher could ever make such a proclamation, Jesus could and he is as good as his word. We look back over history and see what wonderful saving efforts have been made by people, heroic feats of deliverance, both in wartimes and in peace, resulting in many of the heroes being suitably rewarded. But this “so great salvation” won by Christ has for it’s heros reward nothing less than the “bringing of many son’s unto glory” The whole of the redeemed throughout all the ages gathered together in heaven will be the sole accolade that our blessed Lord will want to receive. We are given a preview of this in Revelation 7,9-17. The great multitude washed in the blood and singing songs of salvation before the throne of the Lamb. This will crown his willingness suffer and die when he sees “the travail of his soul, he will be satisfied..” Isa.53.11. Dear reader the way of salvation will be made clear in the following chapters of this little book, why not avail yourself of it. Eternal salvation is Yours for the taking, why settle for anything less?
A major fundamental truth in this “so great salvation” is the person who accomplished it. If we err on this point then the foundation is shaky to say the least. To many so called Christians such as Jehovahs Witnesses, Jesus Christ is nothing more than a created being. He is on the same level as Lucifer, only that Lucifer became an unfaithful angel, and Jesus remained loyal to God and could become incarnate and enter this world. To many other people the Lord Jesus Christ is put on a par with other great religious founders such as Mohammed or Oriental religious innovators. Many people simply feel that Jesus was a good teacher whose ethical and moral instructions are the finest to be found and if followed would bring in the panacea that the world is looking for. If either of these aspects of Christ were correct then this salvation would be anything but great. However wonderful and mighty angels might be, nowhere in the Bible are we told that such a being could effect mans salvation. How could God trust angels when they are liable to fall into sin and to rebel against Him? Such teaching also makes nonsense of the plain prophecies in the Bible such as Isaiah 7,14 and 9,6-7. If Jesus: is simply a religious founder such as has been mentioned then the very words out of His own mouth claiming to be God are invalidated and he is found to be untruthful. John 14,8-11 is a point in question. We know that the moral teachings of Christ are certainly powerful, but so are some of the teachings of oriental Gurus. The basic difference is that with Christ he not only instructs us in the ways of righteousness, but he also imparts the power to live those teachings through his death and resurrection. The moral teachings found in other faiths may be good but there is no one to grant the needed spiritual regeneration to comply with them. This salvation is great because the Person concerned with it is none less than the Eternal God himself revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ be anything or anyone less than God himself then this salvation is no longer great, but is reduced to the level of a purely human deliverance. The saving power attributed to God in the Old Testament, as so graphically portrayed in Isaiah 43,3 “I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel thy Saviour” and again in verse II “I, even I, am the Lord: and beside me there is no saviour,” This is further verified in Isaiah 49,26 “all flesh shall know that I am the Lord, thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.” If this is so then when did God become the saviour, when did all flesh know this great fact? To find the answer we simply turn to the New Testament
This was the blinding revelation that came to the shepherds in the fields minding their sheep “For unto you is born this day..a Saviour which is Christ the Lord..” There was no doubting in their minds what this meant, the only Saviour the Jewish people looked for was none other than Jehovah of the Old Testament. What the angel said to the shepherds confirmed the message to Mary his mother at his conception “thou shalt call his Name Jesus for he shall save (be the saviour) his people from their sins.” Now if as we read in Isaiah that there is no other saviour beside Him and if Jesus is not God in the flesh, then we have a dilemma. We are faced with the problem of having two saviours which of course we know cannot be true. The apostle Paul writing to Timothy categorically states that God is our Saviour.
I Timothy-. “the commandment of God our Saviour 2v3 “in the sight of God our Saviour” O “the living God who is the Saviour of all men”
This fact he further verifies to Titus also.,
Titus. 1v3 “the commandment of God our Saviour”
2vlO “the doctrine of God our Saviour”
3v4 ” love of God our Saviour”
This is plain enough for all to see, God is our Saviour. But Paul also attributes this to the Lord Jesus. He tells Timothy in his second letter “the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ” 2 Tim l, v10. Paul then carries this into his letter to Titus, lv4 “the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour” and then in 3v6 “through Jesus Christ our Saviour”. Did Paul have two Saviours? Certainly not, but Titus 2,13 helps us see the truth “the glorious appearing of our Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ..” Here Paul brings the two together as he does in chapt 1 v 4. It is therefore obvious that the Great God who is our Saviour was none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. Where you see the word and such as in “the great God and our Saviour” it can and does mean in the Greek even, so it would read “the great God even our Lord Jesus Christ’ Understanding this we can now see what Paul meant in I.Tim.3.16, “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, believed on in the world, received up to glory’ Everything in that verse speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ yet Paul says it was God manifest in the flesh. The Lord Jesus Christ himself makes things so patently clear in John 14, when Philip said “shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us” Jesus replied so simply and yet so directly in verses 9-11 “Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known me, Philip. He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.. believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me..the Father that dwelleth in Me, he doeth the works’
If Jesus was just an angel, or if a second person of a trinity dwelt in him surely he would have said so, he would not have deceived them. But his words were so plain, he knew that the Spirit within was none less than the mighty God himself. Paul states also in 2.Cor 5,19 that this great salvation was because “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” If this is not Bible truth then why did Paul so strongly affirm that “in Christ ALL the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily” Col.2:9. To anyone with anyone with an open mind the truth is evident, the indwelling Spirit in Jesus was God himself, the human frame that enclosed the Spirit was the Son as the angel said to Mary “therefore that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” But he who was born was also” named Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us..” Matt. 1, 23. This salvation is considered GREAT when you realize that the Person concerned with it is none other than the Creator of the world, Jehovah himself. Is it any wonder then that after the resurrection Thomas the doubting disciple could triumphantly cry “My Lord and My God” John. 20:28. We also can say the same thing. The foundation for our salvation lies not in any angelic being, or religious founder, or great philosopher, but in the mighty God Himself and him alone. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given..and his name shall be called wonderful, Counselor, The MIGHTY GOD, the EVERLASTING FATHER, the Prince of Peace..” Isaiah 9,6. “O come let us worship and adore the author and finisher of our faith for this so great salvation.”
In the giving of the ten commandments in Exodus 20 the Lord makes it very clear that He alone is to be worshipped. Jesus also states the same thing when being tempted of the Devil in Matthew 4,10 “it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve’. Now if this be so, and if Jesus be not God then he had no right to accept worship of any kind. Yet what do we find? The wise men from the east were led to the infant Christ by the star and “when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother; and fell down and worshipped him” Matt. 2:11. Again we read in Matthew 14.33 “Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him..” Following the resurrection it was said of the disciples in Matt. 28:9 “they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him..” Why was it that Jesus did not rebuke them for transgressing the commandments? The simple answer is that he whom they worshipped was entitled to it being God in the flesh. Look at Matt.8.2, “there came a leper and worshipped Him” Matt.9:18 “a certain ruler came and worshipped him’, Matt. 15:25, the woman who was a Syrophoenician “came and worshipped him” We read of the demoniac of Gadara in Mark.5:6,”seeing Jesus ran and worshipped him” You will notice that Jesus never once refused the ardent worship of those who gave it to Him. Surely if he were not the One true and living God he should have told them not to do it. Therefore let us worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness for He alone is worthy.
Another fact about God is that he can and does forgive sins. In the healing of the palsied man in Luke 5,18-26 Jesus said unto him “thy sins are forgiven thee” This so incensed the Pharisees and doctors of the law, they said “Who can forgive sins but God alone “? They spake the truth even though they were saying it and rejecting the Lord who spake those words. So we see that if Jesus be not God he had no right to pardon the sick man. But he did and on other occasions he did the same. See Luke 7,48 to the woman he said “Thy sins are forgiven” This truth is carried on right through the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles. Note the following scriptures Acts.5.31. “a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and the forgiveness of sins. Paul in Acts.13:38 says “be it known unto you..that through this man is preached the forgiveness of sins” See also Eph.1,7 and Col.1,14. These scriptures substantiate that the God in the Old Testament who gave forgiveness unto his people is the same One who does so in the New. The Bible references in the Old Testament abundantly shew a God who pardons his people. See Psa. 103,3 for just one example and there are multiplied others. Again we ask the question “who but God can forgive sins”? and the answer is no one, but he who came in His Son was able because Jesus became the “lamb that could take away the sins of the world” John. 1,29. Does this not prove my point that the Person who procured “this great salvation” is none other than the eternal God revealed in flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul states in Romans 1,16 “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation..” The dynamic enshrined in the gospel is able to effect those who will willingly accept. Therefore in order to know what is entailed in salvation we shall consider in this chapter seven of the great words used to explain it
Turn to Titus 3:5 “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost..” In this great salvation resides the power to effect a completely new life. This is what regeneration means, it is to impart to mankind a new spiritual life which in reality is the life of Christ himself. Jesus does not patch up the old nature he makes us completely new. This is shown to us in 2.Cor.5.17 “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature (creation) old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new..” This evidently equates with the teaching of the The Lord Jesus when interviewing Nicodemus in John 3,5 “except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God..” Regeneration means a new life, thus it means a new birth. As Christ was miraculously conceived in the womb of his mother and grew and was born, so in like manner the life of Christ is implanted in the barren heart of the one who accepts the gospel and this spiritual life begins to grow and when they have complied with the conditions of the gospel then they are born again, or regenerated. We will discuss the conditions of the gospel in our next chapter on the Plan of salvation i.e. the place of baptism and receiving of the Holy Spirit
I.Peter, 1:18-19 “ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ..” The apostle Paul speaks of “being sold under sin” Rom.7:14. Through his sacrificial death on the cross and the shedding of his blood, Christ paid the price to buy us from the slave market of sin so that we can realize that we now belong to our redeemer. We are told in I Cor 6:20 “we are bought with a price” this is the precious blood of Christ. The power contained in this great salvation can pay the price demanded by a righteous God, and those sold under sin can be bought back and become the possession of God. We are no longer our own, we now are the property of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the apostle Peter says this cannot be effected by human means such as silver and gold. No earthly wealth could ever buy a man from sin, it had to be the precious blood of Christ that alone has power to redeem.
2.Cor,5vl9 “to wit that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” This is another wonderful word in connection with our salvation. In Col. 1:21 it says “we are alienated and enemies..by our wicked works” We are estranged from God. When Adam sinned he rebelled against the Lord and thus he was alienated, he became a foreigner to God and enmity against the Lord was now within his heart. This state of hostility continues in the unsaved, but when he turns to God peace is made. This again is the result of the cross, for Paul says in Eph, 2:12-16 Ye were without Christ, being aliens ..and strangers..were afar off..now made nigh by the blood..he abolished in his flesh the enmity..for to make one new man, so making peace..he might reconcile both unto God..by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby..” What a wonderful fact that peace is made between the warring hearts of mankind and their creator. During the final stages of the World War in 1945 the German Army commander asked of Field Marshall Montgomery what were the terms for peace. Montgomery replied there are no terms we demand unconditional surrender. So it is with us the only way in which peace can be made with God is through our complete surrender to him.
Luke.19:10, “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” ‘Me word save in the Greek is Sozo which can mean, to save or keep sound. But before anyone or thing can be kept sound it has to be found. Christ came into this world, to find lost humanity and rescue him. The parables of the lost sheep, silver and son in Luke 15 express this point. That mankind is completely and absolutely lost, floundering like the disciples on the sea in Matt 8:23-27 we have to cry to him as they did “Lord save us; we perish” We know hat in many of the great rescue attempts such as a sinking ship, sometimes one of the would be rescuers loses his life in the attempt. When Jesus came into this world he made it clear that in attempting to rescue lost humanity it would cost him his life as he said in John 10:17-18 “I lay down my life..no man taketh it from me”
In Luke 4,18-19 we read of Christ presenting his manifesto to the Jewsin the synagogue, and in it he declared that his mission was to “preach deliverance to the captives..” Although the Jewish people at this time were in bondage to the Roman Caesars and they longed for deliverance. Jesus made it clear that they were in common with all humanity enslaved by sin. In discoursing with them in John 8,32-34 Jesus said that “whosoever committeth sin is the servant (slave) of sin..” The power of this great salvation is that it has entered the prison house of iniquity and has opened the doors to freedom to all who will accept it. As Moses was able to bring the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt and lead them into freedom, so Christ through his cross made liberty possible to a sin captive world.
Referring back to John 8 Jesus said in verse 36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed..” truly free and “sin shall not have dominion over you” Rom.6.14. Sin in any shape or form is a great tyrant, but Christ through the cross has brought deliverance blessed be His Name. Did not the angel say to Mary “His Name shall be called Jesus for he shall save (deliver, emancipate) his people from their sins”. Matt. 1:21.
Jesus in Luke 8,48 told the woman who had been healed of the issue of blood, “thy faith hath made thee whole..” the word whole there is a word which can also mean saved. She was restored to physical health by the power of the Lord. What the prophet Isaiah said in chapter one of his prophecy concerning the moral and spiritual state of the nation applies to all mankind today. In verses 4-6 “Ah sinful nation, laden with iniquity,..the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint, from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores..” We can see all around us that humanity is spiritually and morally diseased. It is likened unto the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 where the man has been robbed, wounded and left dying by the roadside. Satan has robbed and spoiled all mankind and inflicted deep wounds into the heart which is desperately wicked (Jer.17.9). But along comes the Samaritan and pours in the soothing and life restoring oil and wine, which is a medicine to the injured man and he is restored to health. This great salvation brings spiritual healing and health to the soul of mankind.
Ephesians 2:1 says “and you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins..” To quicken means to make alive. Now according to I.Thess,5.23 Paul presents man as a tripartite being, body, soul and spirit. By his body he is world or earth conscious, he can see, handle, and enter into all that this earth constitutes . By the soul man is self conscious, his nature, his emotions, his temperament are seated in the soul. ‘Me spirit makes a man God conscious. It is this quality of being that differentiates man from the animal creation. He alone has the ability to communicate with God. The Lord warned Adam “in the day thou eatest thou shalt surely die” this he spake of the tree in the garden of Eden. Both Adam and his wife ate of the fruit. Now we know that Adam did not die physically, nor emotionally but he did die spiritually and it is this spiritual quality in man that is brought back to life when he is truly born again. Returning to John 3 and the visit of Nicodemus to Christ, Jesus said that without the reborn spirit in man “he could not see the kingdom..or enter into the kingdom” Adam and Eve in the garden were in a sense in the Kingdom of God, under his rulership, they were able to converse with God, enter into all the fullness of that Kingdom. When they transgressed they were ejected from the garden.
This is evidently what Paul had in mind, for it is this spirit when brought to life that gives us the consciousness of the kingdom into which we have now been “translated from the power of darkness” Col.1.13. Jesus obviously meant this when he said “Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life..” John.7:24. In the next chapter we will consider by what means after having heard his voice we can in truth pass from death unto life spiritually. Having now looked at these great New Testament words we can see how powerful is the gospel we preach, and only through that gospel can these wonderful benefits become ours.
In all his acts and dealings our God works to plans, patterns and designs. He is never haphazard and this can be seen in the glory of the natural creation around us. We know too that when giving instructions to Noah to build the ark, he gave the exact measurements, and he expected him to carry them out completely. This same principle was used in the tabernacle when Moses was told to “make all things according to the pattern showed thee in the mount” Heb.8 v 5. Likewise when David was giving the charge to Solomon to build the temple we read in I.Chron.28,12 “the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit” Now if the Lord is so meticulous in his instructions for things that were temporal how much more would he be concerned that the conditions for salvation were also kept, as this is of eternal consequence. If either Noah or Moses or Solomon had deviated in any way however small it would have invalidated the scheme and purpose for which the instructions had been given. It is therefore essential that we when coming to the New Testament plan of salvation make sure that we also abide within the prescribed rules laid down. It has been said that the Acts of the Apostles being mainly a history of the commencement and consolidation of the church, cannot be looked upon as being suitable for laying down doctrine. This should be done in the epistles, and the letters of Paul being the ones in which all doctrinal fundamentals are determined. There is an element of truth in this, we know that Luke took the role of the historian when writing the Acts, and not the role of the theologian. We must however realize that although every doctrine needed for the church is found in the epistles, yet it is only in the book of the Acts that we find any recorded instances of people actually be born again, and the way in which they were born again. We must therefore base our teaching on the New Birth from the instances given in the Acts of the Apostles. In the epistles salvation is explained, in the Acts it is experienced. You will notice that the apostles did not deviate from the pattern given them by the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and it behoves us to do the same. In I Cor 15:1-4 Paul delivers the gospel he had received which was “that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again..” This gospel Peter preached on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2,v23-24 “crucified, slain, raised” Having preached under the anointing of the Spirit, the effects of the gospel to those listening brought deep conviction of sin and they then asked the great question “What Must we do”? Peter had the answer “Repent and be baptized..in the Name of Jesus Christ, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”v38. There is the pattern, there is the plan we must abide by it.
In many of the evangelistic meetings held today, the people are told either to raise their hands, or go to the alter or counseling room, fill in a decision card, and then they are told that they are saved or born again. But is this so? Surely these people have only done what the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost did, simply asked the question, but they have not received the correct answer. This is why so many afterwards do not continue in the way of salvation, they have not complied with the conditions laid down in the Word of God. Paul in 2 Thess. 1:8 says that “the Lord Jesus will take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ..” The gospel has not only to be believed it is to be obeyed. Throughout the Acts of the Apostles the way to obey the gospel is made very clear. Let us consider the three main points.
1) Repentance and Faith.
Peter said to the inquirers that they should “Repent’- Jesus also in Luke 24,47 said that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name” Peter therefore was right in line with his instructions. According to the writer to the Hebrews “repentance is a foundation truth” chpt, 6:12, Peter 3:9 states that “the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” The baptism of John was unto repentance in preparation for the coming Messiah. Jesus also said that he had “not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” Jesus himself also came preaching that the people should “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Matt.4:17. Jesus also denounced those cities “because they repented not” after seeing his mighty works. Matt 11:20. Repentance means a change of mind, to have another mind. In other words to leave the old way of thinking and acting, count it as dead and have a new way of thinking. It implies contrition for the past sinful life and burying it. Paul states this when testifying to Agrippa that “they should repent and turn to God ..”repenting brings turning away from the old and unto God. Acts.26.20. Also in Acts 17.30 “God commandeth all men to repent ‘Repentance is also coupled with faith. Jesus said in Mark 1:15 “The time is at hand repent ye, and believe the gospel’ Paul also preached this message. in Acts.20,21 he says “testifying to the Jews, and also the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is plain to see that when a sinner is convicted of his sinfulness, he has to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and in so doing he dies to his old way of life and starts towards a new way of living. There is so much stress in the New Testament on the need to believe the gospel from the preaching of Jesus night through the Acts and into the epistles. We cannot be fully saved in the Bible Way unless we exercise faith in the truth of the gospel. Therefore repentance and faith are essential elements in this great salvation”
2) Remission and Baptism.
Once again we turn to Peters reply on the day of Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins..” If the gospel as we have seen is the death and burial of the Lord Jesus, and in obeying it we first repent or die to the past life, then as Jesus was buried so we too have to identify with it ourselves. Baptism is being buried with Christ as Romans 6 tells us. Baptism in the Greek means to dip, submerge or immerse by lowering and raising again in to something, usually a liquid.
Jesus said in Luke 24,47 “repentance and remission of sins should be
preached..” In that verse he did not say how the sins should be remitted this became clear on the Day of Pentecost through the instruction of Peter, that it would be accomplished in water baptism. We cannot understand why there was so much stress laid on the ordinance of baptism. Jesus said in the Great Commission that they should “Go and teach all nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost..” Matt.28.19. Then again in Mark 16,15-16. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature ..He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved..” The apostles then went out and obeyed their Lord’s instructions. It is clear from the Acts of the Apostles that no one having repented and believed the gospel remained unbaptized. Jesus said “that he who believeth and is baptized shall be saved, this is plain enough for all to see. Let us look and see if the apostles did really obey the Lord. In the 2nd chapter Peter told them be “baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus” and in verse 41 it says “they that gladly received his word were baptized..” They did not argue as some people do today, with great joy they submitted to water baptism. If you are reading this and have been one of those objecting to water baptism, thy not follow the example of these first century believers and obey the words of the Lord Jesus? If they needed to be baptized so do you. Philip went to Samaria in Acts 8 and powerfully preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus, and in verse 12 it says “when they believed the preaching of Philip concerning the kingdom of God..and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” Note it was adults and not babies who were baptized. In Acts 9 Paul after his dramatic encounter with Christ on the Damascus road, and Ananias praying for him “received his sight forthwith and was baptized” no waiting, or arguing he complied with the condition of salvation. This same pattern was enacted in Acts 10, with Cornelius, in verse 48 Peter “commanded them to be baptized.. “They obeyed his orders. Have you? Acts 16 verse 14-15 Lydia “attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul..and was baptized..” Later in this same chapter Paul and Silas having been cast into the prison, and singing praises to God, caused an earthquake and the Jailer thinking they had escaped was ready to commit suicide. However realizing all was well said in verse 30 “What must I do to be saved” Paul’s reply was “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Paul spake a little further to him” the word of the Lord” obviously explaining in a fuller way what was required, at which the man ” was baptized straightway.
They did not wait until the morning, in the dead of night they obeyed the instructions of the apostle. Surely this shows how important baptism was in the early church. Are we in this twentieth century disobeying the commands and practices of the first century church? If so what right have we to do this? The word of God does not change, and we cannot alter it without imperiling the salvation of men and women.
Acts chapter 19 verses 1-7 again underlines the importance of water baptism. Paul found 12 men who had been baptized according to Johns baptism, but Paul -made sure they were baptized correctly in the Name of Jesus Christ, if as some would have us believe baptism is not really necessary why did Paul insist on their being baptized, if it didn’t really matter why bother at all? If they could have got saved and born again without it, Paul and the other apostles went to a lot of needless explaining and preaching it, and also making sure those needing to be baptized were immersed in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Having said all that about baptism, we see that it is important for the remission of our sins. By this we do not mean that the water has in itself the power to wash away sin. According to Hebrews 9,22 “without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins” Then again in I.John,1.7. “the blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanseth from all sin..” Without a doubt only the blood has power to cleanse. How then can we measure this up with Peter’s statement that in baptism our sins are remitted and cleansed ? It would appear that when a sinner repents of his sin and accepts Christ’s sacrifice for his sin, as far as God is concerned his sins are forgiven positionally, but they are not actually dealt with until he has identified himself in the death and burial of the Lord Jesus. I am sure that this is what Paul meant when he stood before the Jews in Acts 22.16 and recounted his Damascus road experience, Ananias said unto him “And now why tarriest thou, arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins..calling on the Name of the Lord…” As he repented and believed and committed himself to the Lord being ready to do whatsoever the Lord required of him, the previous sinful life and actions which had been potentially forgiven and remitted were in the act of baptism actually made good unto him. Without obeying the Lord’s command to be baptized what Jesus did FOR us on the cross through his blood cannot be done IN us. The water does not cleanse, but our obedience in the act of being baptized brings that cleansing efficacy into operation, with the power of the Name.
Paul obviously taught this in Romans six when dealing with the sin question. If we have truly repented and been baptized in water, then having been baptized into his death, and it was at Calvary that he dealt with sin, then the sin problem is solved. Christ solved it at the cross, it is solved for us in the act of baptism. We ire “now dead indeed unto sin … but alive unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ..” Let me illustrate it like this. Perhaps a convicted criminal comes before the judge, the judge says I will acquit you providing you go and apologize to your victim. Until he actually asks forgiveness he is potentially and provisionally forgiven. That forgiveness only becomes actual in his obedience to the judge. So it is with us, all that is entailed in the remission of our sins is only imparted to us as we obey the gospel. Through baptism we appropriate the forgiveness offered to us through the blood. Through the blood God offers forgiveness and remittal of sins, through our baptism we receive and take the proffered grace. In Col 2:11-14 Paul uses circumcision as a type of baptism telling us that through our being buried with him..and being raised and quickened together with Him, he has forgiven us all trespasses.. blotting out all that was against us, and nailed it to his cross. What he nailed to the cross at Calvary is removed by our baptism in His Name. No wonder it is called ‘so great salvation’. The act of baptism is as important to us as was the opening of the Red Sea to the Israelites, one last thing we need to say on this matter of baptism, is that in order to effect it has to be done in the Name of the Lord Jesus, because He it was who died and was buried. Peter, Philip, and Paul left us the pattern all baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Re-read the instances we went through earlier in this chapter in the book of Acts and you will notice it is the Lord’s Name that is invoked on each occasion. The only way to obey the Lord’s command in Matt.28.19 is to do it as the apostles did, and that Name is Jesus. It is amazing how many people will fight against, argue against baptizing in Jesus Name. If we are wrong in doing this, so also are the apostles. But I do not find anyone labeling them heretics, or anyone objecting to it, even though there were those among the apostles who had heard Jesus say those words, they did not rebuke Peter and say he was wrong. Surely if Peter was Holy Ghost inspired on the Day of Pentecost, how could he have made a mistake? The Spirit came to lead them into all truth It is blasphemous to suggest otherwise. The Name of the Father, Son and Spirit therefore must be the Lord Jesus Christ, what Jesus said, and what the apostles did leaves with no other alternative.
3) Receiving the Holy Spirit.
As we have seen, if the gospel is the death, burial, and rising again of the Lord Jesus, and our obeying that gospel by dying to the old life in repentance and faith, being buried with him in baptism, then as he was raised by the power of the Spirit, so we are raised by the same Spirit to walk in newness of life..” Rom. 6 v 4.
Returning to the Pattern of the day of Pentecost, Peter says “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost..” The crowning glory of this “so great salvation” is the reception of the holy Spirit. The writer to the Hebrews says in chapter 2,3-4 “how Shall if we neglect so great salvation:..First spoken by the Lord..and we escape I confirmed by them that heard him, God bearing them witness, with signs and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Ghost” This salvation was verified by the supernatural gifts of the Spirit which obviously had included the initial gift of the Spirit. Looking again at the outstanding examples in the Acts of the Apostles where the Spirit was given climaxing their baptism in water, it was always in a supernatural way. Those who were leading the convert into the fullness of salvation expected them, to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them to utter. There can be no doubt now that what Jesus said unto Nicodemus in John 3.5 “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” The use of water here is generally accepted by most commentators as being baptism, and the receiving of the Spirit as that what occurred on the day of Pentecost. Also Paul writing to Titus speaks of “being saved” by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost..” Again a lot of commentators and translators of the scriptures give this to mean baptism in water and the Spirit’s reception. Therefore Jesus and Paul were in harmony. Surely then Peter and the apostles were in one accord with Jesus and Paul in presenting the gospel as they did in expecting the people to be baptized in water and receiving of the Spirit. In view of the complete unison of the New Testament on this matter, let those of us who preach it maintain the truth, and those who reading this may be unconvinced still, realize that there is only one way of salvation as there was only one ark, or one way through the Red Sea, there is “none other Name given among men whereby we must be saved” Acts 4:12. In order to get within the saving power of that Name we need to repent, be baptized and receive the fulness of the baptism of the Spirit, by this means the Name of Jesus is stamped deep upon our hearts. Let all “who Name the Name of Christ then turn from iniquity” 2 Tim 2:19.
Following their Acts 2,38 salvation, it is recorded in verse 42 “they continued steadfastly” Progression and advancement in the things of God are essential. It is unfortunately the case with some people who have a Acts 2.38 salvation, that they think that they have arrived and there is nothing more left to receive. But Acts 2.38 is the gateway and not the goal, it is the beginning and not the terminus. From a simple perusal of the epistles, the writers are constantly exhorting their readers to make sure they are growing in the things of God. Stagnation is not tolerated in the Christian Life. In the natural, babies and young children need three things, namely Appetite, Atmosphere and Activity, these three things are also vital in the life of the believer.
Spiritual hunger is a good thing for Jesus said ‘they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, shall be filled” Matt.5.6. The apostle Peter in speaking to believers of his day says “as new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may GROW thereby”. I Pet.2:2. It is the duty of the pastors to feed the new converts on the simple ingredients of the gospel. In order to make sure that they grow they need to be well fed with the word of God. As a new born baby drinks the same type of milk for quite sometime, so the spiritual infant needs to be well grounded in the foundational truths of the gospel. If the wrong, or too strong a type of food be given to a small child, it can result in congestion, or it can be fatal. Spiritual fatalities often occur because those ministering to the babes in Christ feed them with meat far to soon for them to digest, hence some will back slide and turn away from the table of spiritual food. But of course as natural parents look for physical growth, so there must spiritual advancement.
The writer to the Hebrews in chapter 5, 11-14 tells them they “were dull of hearing” they were lacking in their perception. As a baby grows he begins to learn, crawls and then starts to falteringly walk, so he is able to get around and discover the home he lives in. It is then that we know he needs something stronger than milk, he needs meat. The Hebrews here should have been teachers, but they were still in the kindergarten. The simple initial principles of the gospel still seemed to be above them. instead of now feasting on the richer things from the Lord, they could still only take milk. Tragically even so today some believers enjoy the special meetings, the conventions, the simple preaching in an evangelistic crusade, but are never there when the Bible Study is on. The early church “continued in the apostles doctrine” They had an hunger to know more and more, there was a spirit of wanting to discover the deeper truths of the word of God.
If we treated our spiritual bodies to the same amount of food per week as we give our souls, we would be so weak and emaciated, if not dead. We are told by Peter that we should “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 3:18. It is essential that we develop a hunger and thirst in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Spiritual ignorance is not to be countenanced. We are not to remain children we are to advance. This great salvation is an academy, we are ever-learning about the things of God. Spiritual growth brings stability. In writing to the Ephesians in chapter 4,12-16 Paul comes down hard on those lacking maturity. We should no longer be children, enjoying petty toys, tossed to and fro, unstable. Every little fanciful wind of doctrine, every novelty that appears on the religious scene we run after and make it the be all and end all of things. Paul says ” the knowledge of the Son of God..unto a perfect man, unto the stature of the fullness of Christ … growing up into him in all things..” How often we say to each other, ‘O grow up. ‘Surely the Lord must be saying the same to many believers, grow up, progress and advance. Nothing pleases parents more than to see their children growing, learning, discovering fresh things. How much more our heavenly Father wants to continue the process of spiritual advancement, which commenced with our new birth into the kingdom. Probably Corinth was the most gifted of all the churches in the manifestations of the Spirit, for in chapter one verse seven Paul says “ye come behind in no gift” yet in the third chapter he confesses in verse one and two that they “were babes..he had fed them with milk, they could not bear meat..” They were not newborn babes, they were spiritually retarded in growth. Paul was simply saying to them, why don’t you grow up? He further underlines this in chapter 14:20 “Brethren, be not children in understanding,..in malice be children, but in understanding be men..” Children that do not grow in the natural become a burden to their parents, however much they love them. This is true in the spiritual, retarded saints are more of a burden to pastors than they so often realize. It was with this in mind that Paul writes to the Ephesians in the first chapter, verses 17-18 “they may have the spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of him,, the eyes of their understanding being enlightened they may KNOW the hope of their calling, and the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints..” He prayed they might have an appetite for greater knowledge and experience in the great salvation. Paul also encourages the Colossians to be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; walking worthy unto all pleasing..being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God…” chapter one, verses 9-10.There is no room for immaturity here. In returning to the apostle Peter in his second epistle, chapter 1, and verses 3 to 9 he lays down the fact that God has provided for us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of him”, note again no room for ignorance, knowledge is available in abundance. HE then tells them to heed to this, with virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. If these things “be in you and abound, they make you neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But look at the other side of the picture, if these things are not present “he is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins..” It is plain to see then that the more we, advance, the more we know, see, learn and understand and as Peter says in verse 10 and ll, “if ye do these things, ye shall never fall..an abundant entrance shall be ministered unto you, into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” Let us therefore heed the writer to the Hebrews chapter 6:1 “leaving the principles (the first steps) of the doctrine of Christ, and go on unto perfection”(full growth). A good spiritual appetite, well fed makes strong, mature and knowledgeable believers, who in turn make good spiritually minded and well founded churches.
It is perfectly true that environment affects growth. A child brought
up in a clean, happy, loving home will develop far better than children in homes that have discord, lack of real good food and love. The early church made sure they kept in the right surroundings. Referring to Acts 2.42 we “read they continued…in fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers..” This local church was conducive to spiritual growth because of the happy atmosphere. In verse 46 we read …. in one accord in the temple…breaking bread from house to house…did eat their meat with gladness, and singleness of heart…” It must have been simply wonderful to live in such surroundings. To have breathed in the pure air of prayer and worship, the delightful unity that existed among them must have felt like the breezes of heaven itself. The spirit of fellowship as they gathered together was unhindered by petty strifes and self seeking individuals. No wonder they grew in numbers “the Lord adding to the church daily” Where there is 11 singleness of heart” meaning purity of intention there will be no division or carnal manifestations.
We who are brought together because of this great salvation are responsible for the creation within our local churches for a conducive environment in which we can grow and mature in the Lord. In the natural a family is not one, where there is,! jockering, jealousies, malice, soon brings hatred and other unpleasant feelings, it can become a veritable hell on earth.
This should not be seen or known in the local family of the church. :In most without exception in the epistles we read of the waters instructing in their readers to unity and love. I Cor, 1:10 “Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ..that ye all speak the same thing, and there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same ‘judgment..” This was a divided church, owing allegiance to different brethren, some to Peter, some to Apollos, and as Paul says “Is Christ divided” If we expect to grow and progress in the Lord we have to make sure that the atmosphere is good. See also Eph.4.3 “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond peace..” Phil. 1.27, “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together..”See also Phil.4:2 “I beseech Euodias, and Synteche that they be of the mind in the Lord.” The growth not only of the individual believer is impaired, but the spiritual advancement of the church is also held back. As we naturally need to breathe pure air, so we need to breathe the pure air of heaven, and this is found in times of private as well as united prayer. With the breakdown of so many marriages today there is a slogan which says “the family that prays together, stays together” how powerfully true that is, and it applies to the family of God equally as well as to normal families. It is painfully all to true that young converts can be distressed and often turned away from the Lord because of the awful state of disunity found in some local churches who are supposed to be Pentecostal and Apostolic. There is nothing apostolic in discordant churches. Fellowship is a lovely word and means perfect communion among all it’s members. Paul’s message to the Phillipians in chapter 2 verses 2 to 4 are mighty words “if any consolation, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, nothing being done through strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves…”It seems superfluous for me to comment on these verses they speak for themselves, but they show what sort of environment is needed in the local church family. When that atmosphere pervades the air there will be growth that will bring pleasure to the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an atmosphere like this that the Lord can anoint the preaching of the word, bring forth the gifts of the Spirit, and also the fruit of the Spirit, bring deliverance to sin sick souls and defeat the power of Satan. Spiritual growth depends on the environment.
When children are growing they soon become active, full of energy and vitality. Equally true is this of the believer. God has no room for inertia in the church. It has been said that the devil finds work for idle hands, we need to be active i-ii the work of the Lord. If we want to grow then we must go, and serve the Lord. Faithful attendance at the house of God in fulfillment of the word of the Lord in Hebrews 10,24-25 “let us provoke one another unto love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of SOME is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching…” When we come together we should seek to contribute to the blessing of the meetings. Paul tells the Corinthians chapter 14, 26 “that when they come together, they should have a psalm a doctrine, a tongue, a revelation, an interpretation and all should be done unto edifying..” we may not all be preachers, or singers, or endowed with some gift of the Spirit but we can all enter the church meeting and give of our best in worship, intercession and testimony. We need not be idle, there is much to do for God. Let us seek to find the kind of service He has designed for us and if we are” faithful in the few things” we shall reap our reward in eternity. It is unfortunate that many believers do not progress simply because they are inactive in the work of God. Psalm 100 presents this to us “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing, we are his people..enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise, be thankful, bless his name..for the Lord is good..”Idleness and inertia are unknown if we adopt this attitude, we shall most certainly grow in the Lord.
Having discussed the commencement and Continuation of this “so great salvation, we propose to consider it’s perfection or completion. Two things are involved in this, a) The Coming of Christ and b) the Condition of the Christian. The second coming of Christ and the sanctification of the believers takes up a considerable amount of space in the New Testament. The Lord’s return has been a beacon light for the church down through the ages, and as we are now standing within earshot of that great day, it is vital that we alert the church to this wonderful event. It is because “we know not the day or the hour” of his arrival, that it is imperative that we constantly keep this truth before us, we do not want to be caught unawares like the foolish virgins. Matt 25:1-13.
The Coming of Christ.
We may ask ourselves, is it really true that Christ will come again to this planet? In his first advent the Lord Jesus fulfilled every prophecy concerning it, from his birth to his resurrection and ascension. Many of these predictions to the human mind when given or read later looked impossible. It is probable that some of the people who read about “a virgin being with child” would have laughed and said we cannot accept that. But it happened as the Lord had promised. Now if that be so with the first coming we can be assured that in spite of those who scoff at it, it will happen. Peter says in his 2nd epistle chapter 3, 3-4 and 9, “knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers..saying where is the promise of his coming… but the Lord is not slack concerning his promise..the day of the Lord will come World wide conditions exist now that Jesus said would be there just prior to his return, and there seems to be very few prophecies left to be fulfilled thus heralding the nearness of that glorious day.
He Will Return Visibly.
As the apostles stood with Jesus on the Mount of Olives on that great Ascension Day, and saw him disappear from view, two angels brought a message from the Throne Room of Glory “this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” Acts.1:14, He was seen to go, he will be seen when he comes, he went physically he will come again in like manner. Could anything be plainer? ‘Me angel said it was this same Jesus. Some people believe that he came spiritually in 1914. In the light of the angelic message, it makes nonsense to even think it could have happened like that. It is a visible, literal coming. Jesus himself left us in no doubt about it. He said “If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself..” Jesus had no doubts about his physical return.
In Luke 21-25 Jesus pictures the present day conditions.Then he says “and then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory..” The apostle Paul underlines this truth when writing to the Thessalonian believers who were grieving at the loss of some of their company. He says “the Lord Himself shall descend” notice it is the Lord HIMSELF The writer to the Hebrews adds his weight to it when he wrote “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear(be made visible) the second time unto salvation..” chapter. 10:28. We read in I John,3:2 “it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” If only people would take the word of God as it is, it would erase a lot of false ideas about the return of our Lord. The same apostle John writing in the Revelation chapter 1:7 says “Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they which pierced him; and all kindred’s of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so Amen” How anyone can see a spiritual coming in these verses completely baffles me. Why look for him if when He comes we are not going to see him? We are awaiting the day when Jesus will break through the clouds and we shall see him face to face. Even so come Lord Jesus.
- b) He Will Return Vocally. Returning to 1 Thess.4:16 Paul says “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel..” This is the picture of the coming of a mighty emperor, with great pageant and splendor. AS is the custom when royalty are visiting the area, they put on a great show with bands, and trumpeters announcing their arrival. In that day we shall be welcoming the King of Kings and Lord of Lords’ There will be shouting, the angels who come with him will be rejoicing, and the saints who going to meet him will naturally be rejoicing. Jesus said he “would come in a cloud with power and great glory” The heavens will resound with the crescendo of praising people.
- c) He Will Return Victoriously. Returning to I Thess 4:13-17 we are left in doubt as to the victorious return of the Lord Jesus. The prison house of death and the grave will yield to him and open the doors for “he has the keys of death and hell” Rev 1:18. “for the dead in Christ shall rise first’ The believers who yet remain will be “caught up to meet him in the clouds’ What a victorious sight, defeating the force of gravity to “be forever with the Lord..” He will come in victory over the forces of sin and lawlessness “the Lord will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ..who will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” What a vision of universal devastation and the terrible plight of the wicked. With words like these we need to thank God that we have obeyed the gospel and in that day we shall escape such destruction into the safety of the Kingdom of God. The apostle Peter says in that day “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, the elements shall melt with a fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up, all these things shall be dissolved..” 2.Pet.3.10-11. However We rejoice with Paul when he told the Phillipians “that our behavior is in heaven; from whence 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..’ Then will come into effect all the glories of the resurrection as portrayed for us in I Cor. 15. Jesus himself also verified this in the parable of the wheat and the tares. He said they were to grow together until the harvest, which is the end of the age, and then there will be a separation. The good wheat, the children of the kingdom will be garnered safely, but the tares who are the children of the wicked one will be gathered and burned in the fire.
Man. 13:36-43. Dear reader if you are unsaved, before it is to late make sure you are one of the children of the kingdom. Obey the gospel and the pattern of salvation as shewn in chapter three.
2) The Condition of the Christian.
Throughout the New Testament we are warned that we need to be ready for coming of the Lord. Jesus himself on a number of occasions sounded the signal to his disciples to be prepared. Matt. 24:44 “Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh..” see also Matt.25,13 Matt. 13:33. Luke 22:34-36. Many of the references in the New Testament relating to the Second coming also connect it with holiness of life and conduct. Holiness or sanctification implies three aspects.
It is only as we are separated, sanctified and consecrated will we be fit to enter “where nothing that defileth can enter” heaven itself.
Jesus when speaking to his disciples pictures the days just prior to his return like the days of Noah. He says in Luke 17:26-27. “they did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage..” notice it is always they not Noah, but the people of his day. He evidently refrained from all of this, he as it were “kept himself unspotted from the world..” In Genesis 6,8-9 it says of Noah “he found grace in the eyes of the Lord …. he was a just man, and perfect (sincere)..and Noah walked with God’ You cannot walk with God and the world. If you try to you will find that you will not find grace in the eyes of the Lord, you will not be acceptable before him.
The call to the Corinthians is applicable today “come out from among them, (the unbelievers, the darkness, unrighteous, spirit of Belial, the temple of idols) and be separate saith the Lord … and touch not the unclean thing” The Lord Jesus was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” Heb.7:26. If this was said of the Lord Jesus, and we claim through this so great salvation” to have him dwelling in our hearts, how can we remain in the activities of the world? Even in the Old Testament the Psalmist says “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of scornful..but his delight is in the law of the Lord..” Ps. 1:1-2. The Nation of Israel was to be special and distinct among the nations, dedicated to the Lord. When they failed, tragedy and enslavement by the surrounding nations was their lot. John tells us to “love not the world, nor the things in the world, for if we do, the love of the Father is not in us. We need to be separate in our dress, separate from the activities of the world. If like Timothy we want to be good soldiers we will not entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life..” 2.Tim. 2:4. Peter on the day of Pentecost after he had told them how to be born again says in verse 40 of Acts 2, “Save yourselves from this untoward(perverse) generation” Those with an Acts 2,38 experience need to heed that warning. Jesus also says in Luke 21-34-35 “take heed..Iest ye be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life..so that day come upon you unawares..as a snare”
Separation is a must for those hoping to make the rapture.
- b) Purification.
Paul tells in I Cor. 1:2 “we are called to be saints (sanctified ones). in Eph. 1:4 “we are chosen to be holy” In I Tbess 4:7. “we are called unto holiness, not uncleanness” Indeed in the fourth verse he tells us “this is the will of God, even your sanctification,” If holiness is the will of God, then we should seek to be in that will, for only there will have the smile of God’s approval. The sanctification provided by the Lord, is all embracive. I Thess 5:23.”and the God of peace sanctify you wholly..and I pray God your whole spirit, soul and body be reserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” The sanctification of the spirit, means our right relationship to him. No adverse desires. The soul needs to be sanctified, which means the cleansing of the heart and the creating of a clean one. Psalm 51:10. The sanctifying of the body is keeping it clean from the defiling influences around us. In writing to Titus about the “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people..” The word peculiar means precious, beyond the ordinary, something or someone special. He gave himself on the cross to cleanse and purify us, so that we shall be ready to meet him in the air. Paul stresses this to the Ephesians chapter 5:25-27 ” Christ loved the church, Christ gave himself for it, that he might cleanse it.. and present it to himself a glorious church, not having a spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish..” What a wonderful sight. This church was purchased through his sacrifice and shed blood, to enjoy his own pure life flowing through it. Surely we all desire to be a part of this holy sanctified church, decked as a bride in all beauty. The garments that are “washed in the blood” Rev. 1:5 and 7:9 must also be kept white until the day Jesus comes. We have already referred 2. Pet. 3. concerning the coming destruction, but Peter says in verse 1l, “seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation (behavior) and godliness” Dear friends these are momentous days, we cannot afford to trifle with sin and loose living, we must realize that “the grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteous, and godly, in this present world..Iooking for that blessed hope..his appearing” Titus 2:11-13. This so great salvation instructs us to live, pure and godly and upright awaiting his glorious return. We must raise our banner “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD”
- c) Consecration.
Romans 12,1-2 are powerful words “I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service, be not conformed (laid down) to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God” If we are to be of service for the Lord, he needs our absolute dedication. We must give ourselves completely unto him, a living sacrifice unto him. Not being conformed to this world and it’s mode of living, being transformed, changed and renewed, living a spiritual and Spirit filled life. Returning to Titus, 2:14 says ” a peculiar people..zealous of good works..” Consecrated service. Whilst we are awaiting his return we need to be working in the vineyard. Rev.22.12 says “Behold, I will come quickly and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be” When Jesus comes again it will a time of rewarding the faithful saints. In that day it will have been worth the toll, labor, work. As the parable tell us we can hear those blessed words “Well done, good and faithful servant enter thou into the joy of thy Lord..” This will be the perfection of this “so great salvation”