In the word of God we find at least three salvations promised to man, located at different points and given to man under different conditions.
First, there is what we might term a temporal salvation, located in the kingdom of nature, and coming alike to all men.
Second, there is a salvation from sin, or spiritual salvation, located in the kingdom of grace or the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
Third, there is an eternal salvation of the soul, located in the everlasting kingdom of God and given to the faithful who die in the Lord. It is to each of these salvations that we now call special attention.
Paul says, “We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men” (1 Tim. 4:10). In what sense is God the Saviour of all men? In the temporal sense only can it be said that He is the Saviour of all men. God sends His rain upon the unjust as well as the just. The wicked can raise just as much to eat upon the same area of land as the righteous can. Paul taught that in God we live, move and have our being (Acts 17:28). In this sense only is God the Saviour of all men. We enter this life by a birth. This is the natural law. God has ordained that where there is no birth there can be no life. Into this world we are all naturally born and enjoy the universal, temporal salvation God has promised to man.
Salvation From Sin
But we have another salvation which is located in the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13) and is given to all by birth who are born into that kingdom by water and the Spirit (John 3:5). But how does one get into that kingdom where salvation from his past sins is offered?
Calling attention to Matthew 7:13-14, you will find that Jesus recognized two ways—the “broad” and “narrow” ways. When man reaches the years of accountability he is certainly travelling one of these roads. One he walks by faith and the other by sight or feelings.
If you will notice, there are five steps in the narrow way, leading into the kingdom of God’s dear Son:
Hearing the sayings of Christ and doing them (Matt. 7:21).
Faith in Christ that we might not perish but have everlasting life(John 3:16). Yet many people become forgetful hearers of the word and not doers, and deceive themselves. Others stop at the second step, claiming justification by faith only. But if you notice you will find that on the same way,
Repentance unto life is required of those who would walk in the narrow way (Acts 11:18). No one can expect to enter into the holy place, or church of God, who has not repented of his sins.
The next step is to confess with the mouth that Jesus is the Christ the, Son of God, for Christ taught that we must confess him before men that He may confess us before the Father and the angels (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:10; Acts 8:37).
The final step in that narrow way is to be born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5)—baptism into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-5).
Thus we are delivered from Satan’s kingdom into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. In this kingdom, we are the children of God because we have been baptized into Christ and had our sins remitted (Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:26-27). In this kingdom, we are called unto the liberty of sons of God, servants of righteousness and freed from sin. So this second salvation is a special one, given only to the obedient believer (1 Tim. 4:10).
Then, beyond this special salvation, there is an eternal salvation which Christ has promised to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9). This is called the salvation of our souls and is the salvation to which our obedient faith leads (1 Pet. 1:9).
This is the everlasting life which God has promised to give to His sheep, His children, where they shall never perish (John 10:28). It is that life eternal unto which the righteous go at judgment (Matt. 25:46). It is that life everlasting that Christ taught Peter he would receive in the world to come (Luke 18:30).
Certainly, the language of Christ is true in John 10:29, that His children should never perish when they get that eternal life, for we learn that in the paradise of God—in that eternal glorified kingdom—there is the river of life and the tree of life where those who go into this life eternal can drink and eat and live forever.
But how do I get into this life eternal? There is only one road leading there. Isaiah calls it a way of holiness—says no unclean thing shall pass over it, nor be found thereupon (Isa. 35:8). The road passes through the spiritual kingdom, through the kingdom of God’s dear Son. It is the road along which Jesus has promised to lead us, but along no other way do we find the hand of God directing. Are you walking in that way, or trying to climb up some other way? (John 10:1-7).
In this way of holiness, you will observe seven steps the child of God must take, which are well described by Peter (2 Pet. 1:5-9). If we add these graces, Peter says we shall never fall. I must add to my faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity or love.
But suppose I fail to do these things. Where will I fall? I have been born into the kingdom and cannot be “unborn.” When once you get into the kingdom, you can only die out, for there is only one way of getting in and one way of getting out.
I was born into the kingdom (John 3:5). But suppose I become wicked in the kingdom, and live and die that way. What will become of me? Christ said the Father would send and gather out of His kingdom all who offend and do iniquity, and would cast them into a furnace of fire (Matt. 13:41, 42).
But can a man get back if he falls off the way of holiness at any step along the way? Yes. He returns by 1) repentance, 2) confession, and 3) prayer. Paul taught that man is a compound being of body, soul and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23) and he taught that we wait for the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23). This is to be a triumph from the grave, when great and small shall hear the trump of God and shall come to judgment; when all the sleeping nations of the earth shall hear and obey. When the sea gives up her dead and the two congregations walking in the narrow and broad ways shall come to judgment, where shall you and I be?
I ask you, dear reader, on which side will you stand? There are only two roads. One leads to life and the other to death. You are making your choice between the two every day that you live.
Will you not accept a home in the paradise of God—heaven? There you will have access to the tree of life and live forever. There you can meet with obedient loved ones of earth after the battle is fought, after the work is done, and after the victory is won. Will you not be there to obtain the crown and forever rest in the city of God. You can, by walking in the narrow way in this life.