E W Humphreys, London
The orthodox evangelist will say that there is one way and only one way of salvation, and he emphatically quotes Acts 4. 12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”. Yet Scripture speaks of salvation from seven points of view.
1. Saved by Grace - EPH. 2. 8
This is God’s side of salvation. The ruin and guilt of the sinner are alike complete, and he is quite incapable of doing anything to remedy his sad condition. Like Mephibosheth he is lame on both his feet, and as helpless as the poor man who had spent thirty-eight years by Bethesda’s pool. It is a case where God must intervene and act if blessing is to come to the poor sinner. God was under no obligation to save but He abounds in grace, that is, free unmerited favour to those who had no claim upon Him. “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared”, Tit. 2. 11, and this grace is seen in its fullest display at Calvary’s cross where God’s infinite justice had its demands fully met, with the sequel that His love can now flow out without hindrance to the vilest of sinners. We can each say with the apostle, “by the grace of God I am what I am”, 1 Cor. 15. 10. When we get home to heaven, from full hearts we shall exclaim, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake”, Ps. 115. 1.
2. Saved by Faith - LUKE 7. 50
This is our side of salvation. If God has acted in such marvellous grace; if the merits of the sacrifice of Calvary are sufficient for the whole human race - why then are not all saved? The answer is that we must believe it and appropriate it for ourselves; “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take”, Rev. 22. 17. There must be the taking and this is the act of faith; it is because men do not take that they are not saved. The Israelite boy of old was preserved because his father believed the word of God and sprinkled the blood. The power of God to protect was there all the time, but faith had to be exercised for that power to be made effective. In his valuable book, The Gospel and its Ministry, Sir Robert Anderson has illustrated faith by referring to the chains that hang from the Thames Embankment to the water’s edge. They are provided to save life but the drowning person must grasp one of them if his life is to be saved. This is faith.
3. Saved by Works - JAMES 2. 24
There is no contradiction between Paul and James; they both wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Paul is writing of our salvation as viewed by God; James is writing of it as seen by man, and one of his key phrases is “if a man say” or some similar expression. If I say I am saved, I must have something to show for it before the men around me. I see a tree that appears barren and leafless in the winter; I am told that it is an apple tree. Then I expect to see evidences of this in the bursting forth of leaves and blossom in spring, and later I shall look for a crop of apples. In the absence of these evidences, I am entitled to doubt the truth of the statement.
The reference in Philippians 2. 12 to working out your own salvation probably refers to the salvation of the local assembly rather than to that of an individual. At Philippi there were the beginnings of a serious trouble, namely the lack of unity among the Lord’s people. Paul refers to it in each of the four chapters. A divided assembly would have no standing nor influence before the eyes of onlookers.
4. Saved by Baptism - 1 PET. 3. 21
The salvation in question here is not the salvation of the soul from sin, but the salvation of the believer from an accusing conscience. How quickly the Spirit of God adds the words “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh”. This verse cannot be taken by those who teach baptismal regeneration to support their terrible error. There can be no hesitation in saying that this error is another of Satan’s delusions in blinding people’s minds to the grand truth of the Gospel. No, the salvation by baptism is the answer of a good conscience. Suppose that I, as a Christian of several years’ standing, had never been baptised. My conscience should always be reminding me, “You ought to be baptised; it is one of the Lord’s commands”. When I have taken this step my conscience is satisfied and I am saved from its accusations. Our text tells us that baptism is a figure - it is a figure of identity with the Saviour in His death, burial and resurrection.
5. Saved by His Life - ROM. 5. IO
The “we” in this verse is addressed to those described as “beloved of God, called . . . saints”, 1. 7. It cannot refer to our salvation from death and hell. Nowhere are the sufferings that the Lord endured during His life down here said to be for us. The reference is to His resurrection life and His intercession for us at God’s right hand, where, Hebrews 7. 25 tells us, He ever lives to make intercession for us. When we get home to heaven, we shall discover how much we have owed to His high priestly ministry there on our behalf. Salvation here refers to our being preserved from falling. We are living in perilous times; we have a bitter enemy who is always on the alert. Believers are often his special target, but we are kept because the Saviour lives and intercedes. He said to Simon Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not”, Luke 22. 32. He still prays similarly for us, so “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”, Heb. 4.16. On one occasion when sorely pressed, Paul wrote, “the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me”, 2 Tim. 4. 17. He was being saved or preserved by His life.
6. Saved by Fire - 1 COR. 3. 15
Day by day God is taking note of our doings. We can either be filling up the days and moments with loving and loyal service for our Saviour, or we can be living for self, courting the favour and approval of our brethren and even of the world. All this will be brought under review at the Judgment Seat of Christ. No saint will be lost - there are abundant scriptures to prove that, but some will be rewarded with their Saviour’s commendation and a crown; while others, alas, will suffer the loss of these blessings. The fire of His searching review will decide with perfect fairness and righteousness. Those whose works are but wood, hay and stubble will be saved by fire; they will see their endeavours consumed under His kind but searching eye, but they will themselves be brought through safely.
7. Saved by Hope - ROM. 8. 24
Here the believer’s present life is in view, not his eternal salvation. He is kept going by the gjorious hope of the wonderful future that is just ahead for him. Around him is a world that is rapidly drifting from bad to worse, but just before him is a precious promise, “Surely I come quickly”, Rev. 22. 20. On every hand, men and women of the world are giving way to despair, but the child of God looks ahead and knows that the body of his humiliation is soon to be exchanged for a body of glory like unto that of his Lord. Many today can see no hope for the world, but the Christian lifts up his head and sings
I can almost hear His footfall
On the threshold of the door,
And my heart is longing, longing
To be with Him evermore.
He is thereby being saved by hope.