Elder Vernon Johnson




This is the first in a series of essays on the subject of salvation.  The words save means "to deliver; to make or keep safe; or to preserve."  

In all but a couple of times in the New Testament the word is used as a verb or a preposition. 

To understand the subject of salvation there are a few rules we must follow: 

                1.  First, we must know what we are being delivered from or what we are being delivered to.  For instance, if I say, "I am saved."  That statement begs the question: "What am I saved from?" or "What am I saved to?"  Without knowing the "from" or "to" the statement loses meaning.

                2.  Second, we must know the context in which it is used.  Most often the context defines the meaning and application of words.

                3.  Third, we need to know what brings about the salvation.  For instance is the salvation brought about by my actions or works, or is the salvation brought about solely by the actions or works of God and we are the recipients of that salvation by the grace of God? To illustrate the above, someone cried out "Lord, save me."  Without any more information we don't know if the person was concerned with the condition of his soul or if he was concerned with the immediate surrounding conditions.  As it turns out, Peter was walking on water to go to Jesus.  When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  Peter was concerned with the immediate surrounding conditions and was crying out for the Lord to save him from drowning.  He was not at that time occupied with thoughts of where he would spend eternity. 

There are two categories of salvation taught in the scriptures.  There is the category that deals with our eternal salvation, i.e., our salvation from the condemning effects of sin, our salvation from being dead in trespasses and sins, and our salvation into heaven's glory world.  All aspects of our eternal salvation we find is brought about by God's grace and is not by the works or actions of man. 

The second category deals with the many timely deliverance God's people can and do experience in our timely stay upon earth.  Included in this category are deliverance from ignorance, from vain worship, from the pitfalls of life, from going about to establish our own righteousness, from this untoward generation, etc.  In this category certain works or actions are generally required by the child of God to bring about the deliverance. 

2 Tim. 2:10 illustrates these two categories of salvation: "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."  The verse indicates with the words, "also" and "with," that these are two categories of salvation taught in the scripture.  One category as we have discussed pertains to eternal glory.  The elect in this verse already have eternal glory due to the work and actions of God and by his grace.  The second category of salvation is conditioned on the elect performing some work or action in order to obtain the timely salvation.  This is a conditional salvation. The elect may or may not obtain this salvation based on whether or not they fulfill the conditions prescribed.  The eternal glory is an unconditional salvation.  God has and will perform every thing necessary for the elect to obtain eternal glory. 

Next one must already have been saved from the condemnation of sin and from being dead in trespasses and sins before he can experience the timely category of salvation.  Phil. 2:12, 13 illustrates this principle: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure."  Thus we see that before we can work out our timely salvation God must first have performed a work in us that gives us both a desire (to will) toward God and his service and an ability (to do) to perform the service of God."  Therefore, we have to be saved eternally in order that we might experience timely salvation.

NEXT - Salvation from Sin's Condemnation