SALVATION PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
In the N. T. the salvation of God is presented under three tenses: past, present and future. As a work “begun” (Phil. 1:6), but not completed in a moment of time. “Who hath saved us” (2 Tim. 1:9), “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11).
These verses do not refer to THREE DIFFERENT SALVATIONS, but to THREE DISTINCT PHASES and stages of salvation: salvation as an accomplished fact, as a present process, and as a future prospect. First, God saves from the PLEASURE OF SIN, causing the heart to loathe what it formerly loved. That which is displeasing to God is made bitter to the soul, and sin becomes its greatest grief and burden. Next, faith is communicated by the Spirit and the penitent sinner is enabled to believe the Gospel, and thereby he is saved from THE PENALTY OF SIN. Then it is he enters upon the Christian life, wherein he is called upon to “fight the good fight of faith”, for there are enemies both within and without which seek to bring about his destruction.
For that “fight” God has provided adequate armor (Eph. 6:11), which the Christian is bidden to take unto himself. For that fight he is furnished with effective weapons, but these he must make good use of. For that fight spiritual strength is available (2 Tim. 2:1), yet it has to be diligently and trustfully sought. It is in this fight, a lifelong process, a conflict in which no furloughs are granted, the Christian is being saved from the power of sin. In it he receives many wounds, but he betakes himself to the great Physician for healing. In it he is often cast down, but by grace he is enabled to rise again. Finally, he shall be saved from THE PRESENCE OF SIN, for at death the believer is forever rid of his evil nature.
Now it is that third aspect of salvation which concerns us in this present series of articles, namely, the believer’s perseverance: his perseverance in the fight of faith. The doctrine which is to be before us relates to the Christian’s being saved from the power of indwelling sin during the interval which elapses between his being saved from its penalty and the moment when he will be saved from its presence.
Between his being saved from Hell and his actual entrance into Heaven HE NEEDS SAVING FROM HIMSELF, saving from this evil world in which he is still left, saving from the devil who as a roaring lion goes about seeking whom he may devour. The journey from Egypt to Canaan lies not for the most part through green pastures and by the still waters but across an ARID DESERT WITH ALL ITS TRIALS AND TESTINGS, and FEW who left that House of Bondage reached the Land of milk and honey: the great majority fell in the wilderness through their unbelief—types of numerous professors who begin well but fail to endure unto the end.
There are multitudes in Christendom to-day deluded with the idea that a mere HISTORICAL FAITH IN THE GOSPEL ensures their reaching Heaven: who verily suppose they have “received Christ as their personal Savior” simply because they believe that He died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all those who repudiate their own righteousness and trust in Him. They imagine that if under the influence of religious emotion and the pressing appeals of an evangelist, and assured that “John 3:16 means what it says”, they were persuaded to “become Christians”, that therefore all is now well with them: that having obtained a ticket for Glory they may, like passengers on a train, relax and go to sleep, confident that in due time they shall arrive at their desired destination.
By such deceptions Satan chloroforms myriads into Hell. So WIDESPREAD is this deadly delusion that one who undertakes to expose its sophistry is certain to be regarded by many as a heretic.
[Arthur Walkington Pink in his Introduction to ‘Eternal Security]