Russell and Duenes

The Richness of Our Salvation in Christ

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Endurance: The Faith that Saves is a Faith that Endures to the End

 “The one who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 10:22; 24:13)

“And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.” (Luke 8:13). This is not saving belief because the person does not persevere. Saving faith is a persevering faith.

“My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never die. No one will steal them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than anyone. No one can steal them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29). In other words, they “follow,” that is, endure/persevere in faith.

“These whom [God] predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Rom. 8:30).

  • This Scripture tells us that God sees to it that justifying faith is glorifying faith. If those who are justified are inevitably glorified, which this Scripture affirms, then the justified have inevitably persevered. They have not “walked away” from Jesus ultimately. This doesn’t say what level of sanctification the justified person has attained in this life, it just means that they have persevered in faith.

“You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. “ (Rom. 11:19-22)

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 1:4-8). God keeps the justified believer persevering to the end.

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:1-2)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” (Eph. 1:3-4).

  • This Scripture teaches that, before the day of God’s creating the world, before any believer was even born, God chose each believer; and He chose them to be holy and blameless. So God has already ordained that the believer will persevere in faith and stand before Him, holy and blameless. This does not negate or obviate our choices to pursue Christ, it simply means that God has sovereignly given us the gift of perseverance “from before the foundation of the world.”

“He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard.” (Col. 1:22-23)

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

“For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” (Heb. 3:14)

“And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” (Heb. 5:9)

“By this will [i.e., God’s will] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10)

  • Notice it says believers “have been sanctified,” in the perfect tense, meaning it’s taken as something already completed, with present abiding results. This frequently happens in the Bible. The sanctification is a good as done, and yet, we still have to cooperate with God in the doing of it in our lives. (See e.g., 2:6, God has already “raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly places,” and yet, our bodily resurrection is still future.)

“For by one offering, He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14). Here again, the perfecting has already happened, but it is also happening in real time. Thus, the sanctification is as good as done the moment a person believes, even though they have to work out their sanctification in life.

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:26-27).

  • I would take the “go on sinning willfully” to mean a decision not to persevere. In other words, if a person does not persevere in faith to the end, but willfully and ultimately abandons the faith, they are not saved. Thus, saving faith is persevering faith.

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Heb. 10:36-39). The faith that saves is a faith that does not “shrink back.”

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)

“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. (Heb. 12:25).

“…who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5). This text shows two things: (1) the believer is protected in faith, i.e., God sees to it that he perseveres; and (2) the “salvation” talked about here is “revealed” in the future. It was secured at the moment of true belief (justification), but it is a final salvation revealed in the future.

“And every one who thus hopes in [God] purifies himself as [God] is pure.” (1 John 3:3). The faith that saves is a faith that inevitably brings purity (i.e., holiness). This does not negate our obligation to choose holiness and purity, but true hope in God means that the believer, by God’s influencing Spirit, will indeed make the choices for purity, ultimately. The gift of God’s influence by the Spirit is part of the overall gift of salvation.

“God, in the act of justification, which is passed on a sinner’s first believing, has respect to perseverance, as being virtually contained in that first act of faith; and [persevering in faith] is looked upon . . . as being as it were a property of that [first act of] faith. God has respect to the believer’s continuance in faith, and he is justified by that, as though it already were, because by divine establishment it shall follow” (“Justification by Faith Alone,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1 [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974], p. 641).

“[T]he justified children of God never forsake Christ utterly. God keeps them.” (John Piper, “The Purpose and Perseverance of Faith”).

“What a living, creative, active, powerful thing is faith! It is impossible that faith [should] ever stop doing good. Faith doesn’t ask whether good works are to be done, but, before it is asked, it has done them. It is always active. Whoever doesn’t do such works is without faith; he gropes and searches about him for faith and good works but doesn’t know what faith or good works are. Even so, he chatters on with a great many words about faith and good works.” (Martin Luther, “Preface to Romans”)

“They, whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” (Westminster Confession of Faith).

“God elected us for this very purpose. “He chose us in him [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph. 1:4). We were predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ in all His spotless purity (Rom. 8:29). This divine choice makes it certain that we shall be like Him when He appears (1 John 3:2). From this fact, John deduces that everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as Christ is pure (1 John 3:3). His use of the word “everyone” makes it quite certain that those who do not purify themselves will not see Christ, nor be like Him. By their lack of holiness they prove that they were not so predestinated. The apostle thus deals a crushing blow to Antinomianism.” (Richard Alderson, No Holiness, No Heaven!, p. 88)

Assurance: The Faith that Saves is a Faith that Includes Assurance

“For the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom. 5:5)

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Rom. 8:16) This “internal witness of the Spirit” is part of the gift of salvation.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.” (1 Cor 2:12)

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession (Eph. 1:13-14)

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

Justification: The Faith that Saves Brings Justification as a Gift from God

“Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 3:23-24). Justification occurs on the first act of true faith, and that first act of faith is a gift of God’s grace. Justification is part of the overall gift of salvation.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Rom 8:29-30)

  • Here we see that justification is a gift. If God foreknows someone (before he is born), he predestines that person to be like Jesus, and if He predestines them, He calls them and He also justifies them. So the justification follows necessarily from God’s foreknowing and predestining and calling, which are done by His grace before we choose anything. This passage also shows us that more than “justification” is involved in salvation. Salvation entails sanctification (“becoming conformed to the image of His Son”), becoming a part of God’s family (“firstborn among many brethren”) and final glorification.

Sanctification: The Faith that Justifies is also the Faith that Sanctifies

“These whom [God] predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Rom. 8:30).

  • This teaches that the sanctification is part of the whole chain. No one can get from “justification” to “glorification” without sanctification. The faith that justifies is necessarily a faith that sanctifies.

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 6:11).

  • Notice that it says “you were sanctified,” not that you will be sanctified. Yet both are true. The sanctification, however, is as good as done at justification, in God’s view. Again, this does not negate the fact that we have to choose to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” But God could only speak of sanctification in the past tense if, in His view, it will certainly happen.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” (Eph. 1:3-4).

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

“By this will [i.e., God’s will] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all . . . For by one offering, He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:10, 14).

“To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ…But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (Jude 1, 20-21)

  • Here’s another one of those texts, where God does something and we do something. Neither is negated by the other. Believers are “kept” by God. God sovereignly does it. But, the believer also has to “keep himself in the love of God,” his own action by God’s grace. But, it’s clear that saving faith is a faith wherein the believer is kept. That’s part of the nature of saving faith; it’s a faith that endures because the believer is “kept.”

“It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone: just as it is the heat alone of the sun which warms the earth, and yet in the sun it is not alone, because it is constantly conjoined with light.” (John Calvin).

  • In other words, faith always brings holiness and the fruit of the Spirit.

Indwelling Holy Spirit: Saving Faith Brings the Indwelling Holy Spirit

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Rom. 6:9). Obviously believers “belong to Christ” and thus, they necessarily have “the Spirit of Christ.”

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezek. 36:25-27)

Adoption into God’s Family: Saving Faith Brings Sonship

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but rather, you have received a Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Rom. 8:15)

“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Gal. 3:26)

“In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:4-6)

“Behold, what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)

“Although adoption is a privilege that comes to us at the time we become Christians, nevertheless, it is a privilege that is distinct from justification and distinct from regeneration.” (Wayne Grudem, “Systematic Theology”). This goes to my point that justification is just one aspect of the rich tapestry/package of what salvation includes. (Grudem points out that holy angels are right with God, but do not seem to enjoy the privileges of sonship that believers enjoy.)

Christ’s Intercession: Saving Faith Brings Christ’s Intercession for Believers

He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom. 8:27)

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” (Rom. 8:33-34)

  • Justification and intercession are inextricably linked. We have Christ’s intercession as part of salvation.

“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25)

All Things Working for Good: Saving Faith Brings “All Good Things”

“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not with Him also freely give us all things.” (Rom. 8:32).

  • The “all things” here are “all things that are needful to fulfill God’s purposes for your life and bring everlasting joy.”

No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Ps. 84:11).

All things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.” (1 Cor. 3:21-23).

  • Much more Scripture and commentary could be brought in on these points, but all I am trying to convey here – which I take to be a positive thing – is that “justification” is a necessary and wondrous part of the whole package of “salvation,” but not the whole thing. Salvation is an immensely rich and full reality, encompassing all of the promises and blessings we have in Christ: justification, assurance, sanctification, resurrection (spiritually and bodily), glorification, adoption, Spirit-indwelling, intercession (answered prayers), perseverance, co-rulership with Christ, fullness of joy and all good things.

– D

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Written by Michael Duenes

May 19, 2016 at 4:29 am

Posted in Duenes, Theology

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