Monday, March 11, 2013

SALVATION. William E. Cox



“. . . The fact that all the saints of all dispensations are saved on the basis of the death of Christ is interpreted as a just ground for
concluding that the tcrm church is properly used of saints in both the
Old and New Testaments. Hence Jews and Gentiles who were saved
in the Old Testament period are considered as included in the New
Testament church. In fact, the usual tendency is to deny any essential
difference in the nature of their salvation” (John F. Walvoord, The
Millennial Kingdom, pp. 80-8l, italics added).
   These words are from the pen of one who holds nothing but
contempt for amillennialism. Yet he has described accurately the
amillennial belief about salvation. Dr. Walvoord also correctly
points out that soteriology (the study of salvation) represents one of
the paramount differences between amillenarians and dispensational
premillenarians.

   What exactly do we mean by salvation? Salvation is a compre-
hensive term, embracing such doctrines as election, atonement,
adoption, forgiveness, justification, reconciliation, regeneration,
assurance, and glori?cation. All of these, and others, are involved
in scriptural salvation. The English term is derived from the Latin
salvare, meaning “to save,” and from salus, which means “health,”
or “help.” The Greek equivalent to salvation is soteria. (This is
why theologians use the term soteriology in referring to salvation.)
This Greek word can mean “cure,” “recovery,” “redemption,”
“remedy,” “rescue,” “welfare,” “salvation.” We see then that the
meaning of salvation is much larger than the term itself.


   In God’s progressive revelation in the Bible salvation is used early
in the Old Testament to refer to the physical deliverance of God’s
people from their enemies, from sickness, and from other physical
dangers. As one progresses through the Scriptures, however, it
becomes evident that salvation has also to do with spiritual deliver
ance. In the New Testament one arrives at the real primary meaning
of this word— deliverance from sin. God, through Christ, is marfs
salvation; and man’s greatest need for deliverance is redemption
from the stranglehold of sin.

   Salvation is embodied in Jesus Christ and his willing sacri?ce on
Calvary. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself"
(II Cor. 5:19). Simeon had the baby Jesus in his arms when he said
“For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared
before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
And the Glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:30). And Jesus
apparently spoke of himself when he said to Zaechaeus, “Today is
salvation come to this house” (Luke 19:9). No doubt his statement
also referred to the deliverance of Zacchaeus resulting from Jesus’
visit; however, the deliverance was by and through Jesus himself.

   “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them
that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into
our hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:4-6).

   The following story well illustrates how our Lord is the
embodiment of salvation. A son had willfully disobeyed his father’s
rule. As punishment for the disobedience, the father told the son
that he must spend three days in the attic - not even coming down
for his meals. At the dinner table both the father and the mother
barely touched their food. They were thinking of the boy in the
attic. Yet, he must be punished; and the father could not conscienti-
ously revoke the punishment. Finally the father excused himself from
the table, and made his way up to the attic. When the father entered
the room the boy sullenly turned his face to the wall. The father
said simply; “Son, I have come to spend the next three days with
you.”

   In what way is Christ our salvation? By being the propitiation
for our sins. And what is meant by propitiation? This means that
Christ satis?ed the wrath of God: that he propitiated the Father
by dying on the cross. God, because of his holy nature, could
not condone sin. God had pronounced death as the penalty for
sin. He therefore could not pardon a sinful man without there
being a death for that man’s sin. Our sins have been placed on Christ
and punishment was meted out on Calvary. God has laid on him the
iniquity of us all, and by his stripes we are healed. In the Old
Testament the scapegoat foreshadowed what Jesus did on the cross.
The sins of the Israelites were ceremonially transferred to the goat,
after which the priest could pronounce them clean. In like manner
our sins were transferred to Christ. God can therefore forgive us
without violating his own righteousness.

      Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.
      Sin had left a crimson stain
      He washed it white as snow.


   Here is the most humbling thought in Scripture. Christ, who
lived a sinless life, died as a sinner in order to atone for the sins of
the elect. This gives meaning to his words in the Garden of Geth-
semane and from the cross. For our Lord to have begged to be
delivered from the cross itself would have contradicted his own
statements to the e?ect that he came into the world for the speci?c
purpose of dying (John 12:27). No, Jesus did not ask to be
delivered from the pain of the cross. Rather he shuddered at the
thought of that ?eeting period of time when he must assume the
role of a sinner. This was what caused him to sweat as it were
great drops of blood and to plead “Let this cup pass from me.”
For the space of time on the cross that Jesus voluntarily took on
the role of sinner (sinbearer), God’s face was withdrawn from him.
Hear his words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”


   The prophets had foretold that Messiah would be counted
as a sinner in order to become the sinbearer. “Yet it pleased
Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt
make his soul an o?ering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall
prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his
hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satis?ed:
by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many;
and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a
portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with
the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made intercession
for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:10-12).

   Jesus‘ sacri?cial death was no last minute whim on God’s part.
Even before he created the world, God anticipated man‘s need of
redemption and foreordained the cross of Christ. And Christ -— as
an equal member of the Trinity — agreed to this plan. A poet has
well said that if one could look into the heart of God he would see
there a cross.

   Even as God drove Adam and Eve from the garden owing to
their sin, he promised that a way of redemption would be opened to
man. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and
between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou
shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). This has been called the
protevangelion. It is the promise that Christ would come into the
world, meet Satan on his own ground, and defeat him.

   Man’s need for salvation was a universal need. “For all have
sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “There-
fore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death
through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned”
(Rom. 5:12). “What then? are we [Jews] better than they
[Gentiles]? No, in no wise: for we before laid to the charge both of
Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin; as it is written: There
is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth,
There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside,
they are together become unpro?table; There is none that doeth good,
no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With
their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under
their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet
are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God
before their eyes” (Rom. 3:9-18). Compare Romans 11:32.

   Sin has been likened to a disease, and salvation to its remedy.
Biblical salvation is a complete cure -— from diagnosis, to treatment,
to good health. The process begins with our regeneration and ends
with our complete glori?cation in heaven.

   Amillenarians hold— as did the church fathers and the Pro-
testant reformers—that there has always been only one plan of
salvation. Every person who has ever graced, or who ever will
grace, the portals of heaven will have one thing in common with all
other citizens of heaven. Each one will have come there only through
a childlike faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. There is only one
plan of salvation. Yea, and there has never been another plan. Nor
will there ever be a different plan.


   Let us look at the saints of the Old Testament. How were they
saved? Was the plan under which they were saved any different
from God’s plan of salvation for today? Let us look, through the
eyes of that great theologian, Paul, at Abraham’s salvation. Paul
took painstaking care in showing that Abraham’s salvation was
exactly like that being accepted by Gentiles of Paul‘s day. Paul
contended that, indeed, all men of all time are saved in the exact
same manner. Men of the Old Testament looked forward and
accepted the propitiation through Christ on faith while those of the
New Testament era accept the ?nished sacri?ce. In the eyes of God,
however, all are saved through the same propitiation. “We reckon
therefore that a man is justi?ed by faith apart from the works of the
law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles
also? Yea, of Gentiles also: if so be that God is one, and he shall
justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through
faith” (Rom. 3:28-30).

   “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, hath
found according to the ?esh? For if Abraham was justi?ed by works,
he hath whereof to glory; but not toward God. For what saith the
scripture? And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him
for righteousness. Now to him that worketh, the reward is not
reckoned as of grace, but as of debt. But to him that worketh not,
but believeth on him that justi?eth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned
for righteousness. Even as David also pronounceth blessing upon
the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works
.." (Rom. 4:1-6).

   “For not through the law was the promise to Abraham or to his
seed that he should be heir of the world, but through the righteous-
ness of faith. For if they that are of the law are heirs, faith is made
void, and the promise is made of none effect: for the law worketh
wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there transgression. For
this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace; to the end
that the promise may be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is
of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is
the father of us all (as it is written, A father of many nations have I
made thee). . ." (Rom. 4:13-18). Read also Galatians 2:16.

   Men today are saved by hearing and believing the kerygma (the
good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection). Abraham was
saved through faith in that same gospel. This was the same gospel
which was preached by John the Baptist, by our Lord himself, and
by all of the apostles. This gospel was preached, in advance, to
Abraham (Gal. 3:8) so that he might be the father of all the
righteous (Rom. 4:11). “Even as Abraham believed God, and it
was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Know therefore that they
that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham. And the scripture,
foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the
gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations
be blessed. So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faith-
ful Abraham” (Gal. 3:6-9). See also Hebrews 4:2.

   A comparison of Genesis 22:18 with Galatians 3:16 and 3:29
makes clear the fact that Abraham’s salvation (as well as thc salva-
tion of all who are saved) was through the work of Christ on the
cross. “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen. 22:18). Paul speaks of
this promise, and says, “Now to Abraham were the promises spoken,
and to his seed. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of
one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).

   Having shown that Abraham’s salvation came about through
faith in Christ, Paul goes on to say that indeed every genuine believer
—whether he be Jew or Gentile — is a spiritual descendant of
Abraham. “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ
Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on
Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither
bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one
man in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s
seed, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:26-29).

   Paul was inspired to emphasize over and over again that no one
ever was saved by the law. The function of the law was to show man
his need of salvation. “Because by the works of the law shall no
?esh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowl-
edge of sin” (Rom. 3:20).

   Nor is man ever saved by works. “Not of works, that no man
should glory” (Eph. 2:9). “For if Abraham was justified by works,
he hath whereof to glory; but not toward God. For what saith the
scripture? And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto
him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh, the reward is not
reckoned as of grace, but as of debt. But to him that worketh not,
but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned
for righteousness. Even as David also pronounceth blessing upon
the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from
works” (Rom. 4:2-6).

   In Romans 4 Paul deals with the question of circumcision—
since so many Jews thought this act automatically made them
righteous and true descendants of Abraham. Speaking of Abraham’s
imputed righteousness, Paul asks, and answers, a question c0ncem-
ing circumcision: “How then was it reckoned? when he was in
circumcision, or in uncircurncision? Not in circumsion, but in uncir-
cumcision: and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the
righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumci-
sion: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though
they be in uncircumcision, that righteousness might be reckoned
unto them. . .” (Rom. 4:10-11).

   Some have thought that James taught salvation by works.
However, if this were true, it would constitute a contradiction
between Paul and James. No such contradiction exists. The same
infallible Holy Spirit inspired both men to write. James spoke
(James 2:17, 18), not of how to be saved, but of how faith works.
In this he and Paul agreed perfectly. Paul taught the same thing.
“For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them”
(Eph. 2:10). Both James and Paul spoke, on these occasions, of a
working faith—not of faith by works. Every genuine faith will
result in good works. However, no one is saved by good works.
These are the evidence of a saving faith, not the cause of it. The
Philippian jailor was in dead earnest when he asked Paul, “What
must I do to be saved?" If works were necessary, then Paul short-
changed the seeker. For Paul said “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and
thou shalt be saved. . .” (Acts 16:31).

   We see then that salvation has never come about through the
law, or through circumcision, or through works of any kind. I-low
is man saved? Paul spells it out in numerous ways: “For by grace
have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is
the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory” (Eph.
2:8, 9). “But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath
been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even
the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them
that believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned, and fall
short of the glory of God; being justi?ed freely by his grace through
the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a
propitiation through faith, in his blood. . .” (Rom. 3:21-25).

   Salvation, says the apostle Paul, is by grace. Grace is unmerited
favor with God. No person deserves to be saved. Salvation is a free
gift from God to certain individuals. We exercise faith in order to be
saved, but even our faith is also a gift of God. Faith is the result
of regeneration. Unless the Holy Spirit energizes the sinner, that
sinner cannot exercise saving faith. Unregenerate man is not capable
of turning to God. Jesus said: “No man can come to me, except
the Father that sent me draw him; and I will raise him up in the
last day” (John 6:44). This strikes a blow at man’s pride, but it is
very scriptural. And this view alone gives God the glory for rnan’s
salvation.

Conclusion
  There are three phases of the one salvation — past, present, and
future. I was saved at the age of 16, I am being saved each day of
my life, and I shall be saved from the wrath that is to come. Yet
these are but three phases of the one plan of salvation.

   Salvation involves union with Christ. ln Christ the believer is
prophet, priest, and king. This is why Paul could say that all things
are ours in Christ. The Christian is an heir of God and a joint-heir
with Christ. The Holy Spirit, who is our earnest (down payment, as
ll were) of salvation, bears witness with our spirit, giving assurance of our salvation.
And the suiferings of this life, says Paul, are not even to be compared with what
 God has in store for his own.

   On these distinctives there is complete agreement among amillenarians:
God has always had but one plan of salvation, that plan
rest only on the ?nished work of Christ, all men stand in need of
salvation, and all who are saved are saved in the exact same way, i.e.,
only through faith in Jesus Christ.

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