Guy N. Woods
Am I saved or lost? is surely life’s most momentous question. To be lost in the darkness of the night, on unfamiliar streets in a strange city, in a storm adrift at sea or in a small plane in deep fog and without instruments are terrifying experiences but not unheard of in our day. Tragic though such ordeals are to be lost in sin and under eternal condemnation through endless ages is immeasurably worse.
How may salvation be obtained? The correct answer is dependent on the viewpoint from which it is raised. (1) Unregenerate man is lost in a sense in which he cannot save himself, his friends cannot save him, and if he is saved at all, God must do it. (2) There is another sense in which man is lost and cannot save himself, friends and loved ones cannot save him, and God will not save him! For the first sense see John 3:16, Romans 5:8-11, and 1 Timothy 1:15. For the second, see Matthew 7:21 and 1 John 2:4, and often elsewhere in the sacred writings. Is it not strange that in view of the many positive affirmations of human responsibility in the Bible, there are yet those who teach that there is nothing one does, or can do, ,in achieving his own acceptance before God? It will surely be clearly seen from the passages cited herein that to refuse these conditions God has made precedent to salvation is as fatal as the attempt to do that which only God can do in saving us.
The principle of salvation is grace—the unmerited favor of God. Man’s guilt has been irrefutably established (John 3:18) and it is therefore impossible for him to ask for annulment on the grounds that the sentence is incompatible with the evidence. It is equally impossible to argue for mitigation of sentence on the allegation that the sentence is too severe; the Judge of the earth can only do that which is right. A plea of merit on the basis of moral worth is wholly unavailing; we are sinners all. Salvation can neither be earned nor purchased through good works. Undemanded by justice and unpurchased by worth, grace is the principle of salvation.
The motive of salvation is love—that factor in the Divine Mind that brought our Lord to the earth to make atonement for sin (3:16; Rom. 5:3). The immeasurable love which prompted the Creator’s offer of salvation through Christ is affirmed in Romans 5:8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
The procuring cause of salvation is the blood which was shed by our Lord at Calvary, without which there would be no forgiveness (Heb. 10:1-4). Here, and here alone, is the cleansing fountain, the precious laver where the obedient are washed and made clean from all of their sins.
The agent of redemption is the Holy Spirit but for whose revelation in the Scriptures we would be without knowledge of our guilt before God or of the means by which to be cleansed from its stain (John 16:13; 1Cor. 2:8- 13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The power by which salvation is obtained is the Gospel (Rom. 1:16). Not one instance exists of any one being saved, following the beginning of the Christian age on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1ff), apart from, and independent of, the Gospel—the divine instrumentality of salvation (Rom. 1:16-17; Mark 16:15; 1 Cor. 1:21). It must be heard, believed, and obeyed to secure the blessings of salvation and redemption.
The place of salvation is in the church. It is fatal to ignore the highly significant fact that God has always designated a place where there and there alone His blessings are available. Salvation from the flood was in the ark (1 Pet. 3:20); the Israelites found deliverance from the plague only in the brazen serpent (Num. 24:1-9), and the sojourners in Egypt were delivered from the avenging hand of the Death Angel only in those houses over whose doors blood had been sprinkled (Exo. 12:21-26). Salvation is only in the body of Christ—the church (Col. 1:13; Eph. 1:19-23). Here alone is divine deliverance from the guilt, the power, and the presence of sin. To the church—the one about which we read in the Bible—the Lord adds all who submit to His will (Acts 2:47).