Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
It may be true that we have some problems with the term “saved.”
If a person in a boat falls overboard, and we haul him out, we saved him from drowning to a continuation of life.
What does it mean to be saved in a spiritual sense?
To what are we saved, in the spiritual sense?
Is salvation a one-time event or is it a process, a program? The expression “saved completely” implies that salvation is a process or program, doesn’t it?
Another expression that supports the concept of salvation being a process is the idea of Christ always living to make intercession for us. If we are perfect the moment we “accept Christ,” what need is there for continual intercession?
Today we often use the term “saved” to mean a ticket we have obtained by “accepting Christ,” a ticket that will admit us to Heaven when we die. Am I correct in this?
When we add the thought “we are saved by grace,” we mean we cannot lose our ticket. Our ticket is not related to our behavior. We can keep on committing numerous sins; but as long as we have our ticket we will enter Heaven when we die. We will live in Heaven in our mansion for eternity.
Of course, this definition of salvation is wildly unscriptural; yet it is believed today by numerous Christian people.
Let’s take a look at what the Scripture says about being “saved”:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
For it is by grace. The term “grace” is used in different ways in the New Testament. “Great grace was upon them all,” for example. It means the favor and Virtue of God through Christ.
The Apostle Paul uses the word “grace” many times to mean removal from the authority of the Law of Moses that we might without distraction follow Christ into the completion of salvation.
When Paul says we are saved by grace apart from works, Paul means apart from the Law of Moses.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (Romans 3:21)
To represent Paul as saying we are saved apart from a change in our behavior is equivalent to claiming we are saved apart from being saved. True salvation always leads to righteous behavior because Christ is dwelling in us.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:9-11)
You have been saved. Would I be misinterpreting the Apostle Paul to say that some of the Corinthians believers at one time had been sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, or swindlers? But now they have been washed clean through the blood of Christ and no longer practice such behavior?
The Corinthian Christians had been saved “from the guttermost to the uttermost,” as we used to say.
They had been saved from wrath by being saved from sinful behavior.
Paul is warning them that if they continue in such wickedness they shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. To be “saved” is to be delivered from behavior that brings the wrath of God on people such that they cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Is this what Paul is saying?
To be “saved” is to be saved from sinful behavior. All the writings of the Apostles agree with this definition. But it is not the sinful behavior defined by the Law of Moses. This is where grace comes in. We are free from the Law of Moses that we might follow Christ. When we follow Christ we are set free from immoral behavior and other works of the sinful nature.
It is the Spirit of God who points out the sins of our flesh and helps us put them to death. This is true of all the sons of God.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)
Through faith. It is not by adherence to the Law of Moses that we are set free from the bondages of sin. It is by faith in Jesus Christ.
This needs some explanation.
I think we often confuse faith and belief. Belief is an acknowledgment of facts, and it may be entirely passive. We may believe that water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen; but such belief ordinarily does not move us to action of any kind.
However, to have faith in Christ is to set aside our own life that we may follow Him each day. We take up our cross of deferred gratification and, after praying intensely, do what we believe is the will of Christ for us on that day.
We may say we have faith in Christ. But if our faith does not move us to set aside our own life that we may learn to live according to His will for us in every circumstance of life, then we may believe the facts about Christ but we do not have faith in Christ.
Sometimes Christian churches have what they call a “Statement of Faith.” They actually are statements of belief and there is no eternal life in them. Eternal life comes from Jesus Christ when we are obeying Him. Belief in the facts of theology is a religious practice and sometimes brings more conflict than it does the Life of God.
Sad to say, there are people who are expert in the practices of the Christian religion who have none of the Life of Christ in them.
And this not from yourselves. Salvation is of the Lord. It does not come about through our religious tendencies and exertions; although, as Paul said, we are to be zealous to do good works.
During the six days of the creation, as described in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, God created everything in the physical world. At that time the members of the Royal Priesthood were named and the time of their appearing on the earth decided.
This does not mean their destinies are inevitable. There is enough written in the New Testament that informs us we have to labor to make our calling and electing certain.
At the foreordained time in our life God called us to be a member of His family. If we cleave to Christ as we should, we pass into the ranks of the chosen. Then we are brought through many testings. If we endure to the end we shall be saved, meaning we shall have attained to the maturity necessary for our appointed rank and role in the Kingdom of God.
No part of the calling comes from us. Our task is to enter the rest of God, that is, to follow Christ each day so that what God has determined for us shall be accomplished.
As Paul said, we apply ourselves to grasping that for which we have been grasped.
It is the gift of God. Our role and rank in the Kingdom of God is a gift to us. It is as though someone gives us a concert grand piano. We can put it in a prominent place in our house and keep it carefully dusted.
In that piano is Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin. But to bring them forth so people can enjoy their music requires many hours of practice.
Not by works, so that no one can boast. Salvation is like the gift of a grand piano. We did not work for it. The gift came from God, which does away with our boasting. But in order to derive the good from it we have to devote ourselves to bringing forth the treasure from it.
If we do not take advantage of the gift of God to us by using it to benefit His Kingdom, in the Day of Christ we will be treated as a lazy, wicked servant.
For we are God’s workmanship. It is right at this point that we depart from the traditional view of being “saved by grace.” We are God’s workmanship. What does this have to with life in Heaven in a mansion?
No, something different is going on here.
Created in Christ Jesus to do good works. We have been created in Christ to do good works. Think of that! We were not created in Christ to go to Heaven and do nothing. We were created in Christ to do something called “good works.”
How different this is from the traditional view of being saved by grace!
Which God prepared in advance for us to do. What can this mean—good works prepared in advance for us to do?
Let us go back in time before the physical world was created. There was no time then, was there, because there was no sun, moon, or stars by which to measure time. Apparently the Light came from Christ, from the Word of God, the same Light that lighted the world during the first three days of the creation.
There was the Father. There was the Word. Through the Word the Father created all sorts of angels and other creatures.
As far as I can tell, there was no code of righteous behavior. All of the heavenly creatures existed without a knowledge of what is righteous and what is unrighteous. Even Satan was considered to be perfect in all his ways.
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you (Ezekiel 28:15)
The Father has principles, but they may not have been expressed in terms of righteous behavior, at least not to the angels. The ten commandments contain laws that govern the behavior of people. Some of these, such as you shall not commit adultery, would not have been applicable to angels.
Also, the angels may not have been principled creatures. There is no record that angels have a conscience. Where would they learn that they were not to usurp the role of the Father, as Satan attempted to do? Where would angels gain a sense of what is right and what is wrong?
Where do these fundamental principles of right and wrong originate?
One of my own favorite principles that I try to live by is, “Never take joy at someone else’s expense.” I am sure that this principle exists in God, because He is not selfish. But how would the angels know of this?
So I think what happened is that God put the principles contained in His Divine Nature into laws that could be obeyed by people, such as “You shall not murder”; “You shall not steal.”
Perhaps God prepared these statutes in advance, that is, before we were created.
Then, as we obey the laws of righteousness as written in the Law of Moses and in the New Testament, and now in our mind and heart as Christ grows in us, angels and people can tell what is pleasing to God and what is not pleasing to God.
The Divine principles are written in every person’s conscience and God’s Glory can be seen in nature. But the pressure of spiritual darkness is so strong in the world that our conscience becomes distorted and can no longer be relied upon. We become deceived.
(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) (Romans 2:15,16)
There are works of righteousness that we are to do, such as being honest, truthful, morally clean, and faithful to our commitments. As we are obedient to the works of righteousness, the principles from which they are derived, the principles which are the Divine Nature of God, are created in us such that we are formed in the moral image of God.
The importance of our transformation into righteous understanding and behavior cannot be overestimated. We are being prepared to govern through Christ the works of God’s hands. As such our personality must reveal God’s principles wrought in iron. We must radiate righteousness, as God does. We are His sons.
The government of Christ will expand forever.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)
Establishing and upholding the government with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
Here is God’s eternal plan laid out before us. God is placing Jesus Christ on the highest throne of the creation with all authority and power. From the time that Christ next appears extending through the eternal ages of ages, justice and righteousness will be established and upheld.
This is why God called us—so we can be one with those who are establishing and upholding justice and righteousness. If we are following Jesus as we should, iron justice and righteousness are being created in us at the present time.
Now we can begin to understand the enormity of the prevailing error, which teaches that by saying we accept Christ we are free from practicing and teaching the good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do.
Our very calling, our very destiny, has to do with the practice of justice and righteousness, not with an existence in Heaven without responsibilities of any kind.
So we see that to be saved by grace means we are delivered from the image of Satan and conformed to the image of God. Such transformation does not occur as we strive to be good, although there is nothing wrong with trying to be a person of integrity, of honesty, of truthfulness.
The problem arises when we in our pride try to make ourselves upright in the sight of God and man and save ourselves from wrath in this manner. We always fail because of our sinful human nature.
But God has determined to create us in His image. We have been created in Christ Jesus to do the works which God prepared in advance for us to do, to practice righteous behavior; to love mercy; and to walk humbly with God.
Ordinarily our conscience would tell us what is righteous and what is unrighteous. But the power of evil in the world is so strong that we need to place every thought, word, and action before the Lord for His approval. To not do this is to invite deception.
To be saved is to be rescued from Satan’s personality and works and to live in obedience to the good works that Christ is creating in us. To claim that we are saved, when we still are living according to the lusts of our sinful nature, is to say we are saved when we are not being saved.
To be saved completely is to be in the internal moral image of Christ, and then to be conformed to His outer image when He appears.
Being saved completely also is to be filled with the Fullness of the Father; the Fullness of Christ; and the Fullness of the Spirit of God.
Being saved completely also is to lay hold on the rank and role in the Kingdom of God for which we have been laid hold of by the Father.
Each one reading my words can press forward in Christ until he or she is saved completely. But faith in God’s goodness, power, and faithfulness are required, as well as courage and faithfulness on our part.
But we can reach complete salvation if we are determined to do so and do not quit.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
(“Saved Completely!”, 3067-1)