“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”
2 Timothy 1:9
Many talk today of ‘getting saved.’ However, such a term is never used in scripture and for a very important reason. The idea of ‘getting saved,’ implies something the sinner does to obtain or appropriate salvation, and that cannot be. Salvation in scripture is God’s work alone, from beginning to end. Notice in Paul’s declaration to Timothy that he places the saving, in order of prominence, even before the calling. Most people in religion today put it after the calling, making it dependent upon believing first. However, as the passage clearly states, it is not according to our works, but according to God’s own purpose and grace in Christ Jesus even before the world began.
How then are we to understand the salvation of God?
Very simply it is this:
1. SALVATION FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN
Those whom God the Father chose and purposed to save in Christ in eternity, He HAS ALREADY SAVED from the penalty of sin through the obedience and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Who hath saved us,’ describes a completed action in past time. It is in the death of Christ, that God saved (entirely forgave and completely justified) His people from their sin (Colossians 1:14).
2. SALVATION FROM THE POWER AND PLEASURE OF SIN
Those whom Christ has saved from the penalty of their sin by His death, He does in time save (deliver) from the power (authority) and pleasure of sin. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. He delivers them from the blindness and deadness of heart, and makes them alive to see and believe on Christ who redeemed, justified, and sanctified them.
‘For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.’
The sense is having been saved (by Christ’s death), and being kept in that state of salvation by grace. Faith is not the cause but the evidence of having been saved by Christ, and looks to Him alone, Hebrews 12:2.
3. SALVATION FROM THE PRESENCE OF SIN
Those who believe on Christ, through the work of the Spirit, shall yet be saved from the presence of sin, as the ultimate effect of His work on the cross. Acts 16:31, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ The verb tense is future passive, which again speaks of a work entirely outside oneself, a reference to the certain hope of deliverance from the very presence of sin in the day of the believer’s glorification, Revelation 20:6.
What a glorious and blessed state, not to ‘get saved,’ but to know that I’ve been saved through the blood and righteousness of Christ, faith being the inwrought work of the Spirit to deliver me from my deadness and blindness toward Him, and to know that because of His completed work, my hope of everlasting salvation rests entirely on Him as my Surety.
Pastor Ken Wimer, Shreveport Grace Church, Shreveport, Louisiana