God’s Plan of Salvation
Salvation by Grace through Faith
The message pertaining to the gospel of the grace of God is given in very simple terms in Scripture. In fact, it is so simple that man often misses it. And any person, missing the one true message given by the infinite God and drawing from his own finite wisdom and knowledge, invariably — he can’t help but so do — ends up with a corrupted salvation message.
The salvation message, that which makes salvation possible for fallen man, is clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:3:
“. . . Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
The one key thought in the salvation message is death and shed blood (e.g., Genesis 3:21; 22:8, 13), which is what God requires (Exodus 12:13; Hebrews 9:22). And the one key word in the salvation message is believe (e.g., John 1:12; 3:15, 16), which is also what God requires (John 3:18).
The Lamb has died, His blood has been shed, and all that is left — all that can possibly be left — for man to do is simply receive that which has already been done on his behalf.
Eternal salvation is by grace (that which God is able to do completely apart from human merit) through faith (through believing on God’s Son [Ephesians 2:8, 9]), and it is based entirely upon the finished work of Another (John 19:30). Nothing that man has done, is presently doing, or will ever do can have anything to do with his eternal destiny. Man can do no more than receive by faith that which has already been done on his behalf.
This is why Scripture states:
“. . . Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved . . . .” (Acts 16:31)
This statement is in response to a question in the preceding verse,
“. . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v.30)
And within another frame of reference, the response to this question could only be, “Nothing!” This would have to be the response simply because there is not one single thing left for unsaved man to do (nor could he do anything if something were left, for, he is spiritually dead and incapable of acting in the spiritual realm [Ephesians 2:1, 5]).
It is of interest to note that the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” and the answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” only appear together one place in the entire Bible. Scripture is filled with information concerning redemption, but Acts 16:30, 31 is the only place, from Genesis to Revelation, where the question concerning eternal salvation is asked and answered in so many words.
Thus, within a completely biblical framework, if the question in Acts 16:30 is asked, there can beonly one answer: “Believe . . . .” Man’s ideas, thoughts, comments are of no moment. God has spoken, and that’s the end of the matter.
John 3:16 is often called “the gospel in a nutshell” by individuals seeking to draw attention to the overall salvation message stated in its simplest form in Scripture. God, because of His love for fallen man — who had been created in His image, after His likeness, for a purpose (Genesis 1:26-28) — “gave His only begotten Son [1 Corinthians 15:3], that whoever believes in Him [Acts 16:31]should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Everything, in its entirety, to procure man’s salvation was done by Another. It had to be accomplished by Another, for, as previously stated, the one being redeemed was “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), totally incapable of acting on his own behalf.
Christ is the One who died, Christ is the One who performed the work to procure man’s salvation, and God is satisfied with His Son’s finished work.
When Christ cried out from the Cross in “a loud voice” near the ninth hour, “It is finished” (Luke 23:46; John 19:30), He used one word in the Greek text — Tetelestai — that could be better translated, “It has been finished.” Tetelestai is a perfect tense usage of teleo, which means “to bring to an end,” “to complete.” And the perfect tense refers to action completed in past time, with the results of that action extending into and existing during present time in a finished state.
All of the work surrounding man’s redemption that Christ had come to perform had, at that point in time, been completed. This was the announcement that Christ made, in “a loud voice”; and, because of that which was involved in the announcement, there was then no longer any need for Him to continue His sufferings on the Cross. Thus, immediately after He cried out, “It has been finished,” He “gave up the ghost [KJV, lit., ‘He breathed out’ (He expired, willingly relinquishing His life)]” (Luke 23:46).
The work of Christ at Calvary, from the point He cried out, “It has been finished,” has existed inexactly the same finished state in which He proclaimed it to exist at that time. It has existed as a work completed in past time that extends into present time (in a finished state) and that will extend into all the ages comprising eternity ahead (in the same finished state).
Nothing can ever be added, and nothing can ever be taken away. That is to say, nothing can ever change relative to Christ’s finished work at Calvary.
That’s the way God’s procurement of man’s salvation had to occur. Once Christ’s work had been finished, that’s the way His work had to always continue to exist — in a finished state — throughout both time and eternity.
Because of Christ’s finished work, salvation is extended to man “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1); and apart from Christ’s finished work, there is no salvation.
He who believes in him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already [lit., ‘has already been condemned’ (a perfect tense — condemned in past time because of unbelief and presently living in that condemned state)], because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
It is utterly impossible — and foolish to even consider — that finite man, “dead in trespasses and sins,” could add one thing to or take one thing from the finished work of the infinite God through His Son.
All man can possibly do is simply receive, by believing on the Son, that which has already been done on his behalf.
What Must I Do?
Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30b, 31)
Eternal salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9), and it is based entirely upon the finished work of Another (John 19:30). Nothing that man has done, is presently doing, or will ever do can have anything to do with his eternal destiny. Man can do no more than receive by faith that which has already been done on his behalf. This is why Scripture states, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
In this respect, the answer to the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” is actually, Nothing!
This would have to be the answer simply because there is not one single thing left for man to do (nor could he do anything if something were left [he is “dead in trespasses and sins”]). This is the implication in Paul and Silas’ response to the jailor in Philippi. He was told simply to “believe [put his trust, reliance in]” the One who had already done everything on his behalf.
Coming into possession of eternal salvation was that simple and easy for the jailor at Philippi, and it remains that simple and easy for man today. The instant an unsaved person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he is eternally saved. He becomes a “new creation” in Christ, a part of the “one new man” (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:13-15). Anything in addition to unsaved man’s act of faith can occupy no place in the biblical answer to the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Such can occupy no place in salvation by grace through faith.
Only One Place in Scripture
It is of interest to note that the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” and the answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” only appear together one place in the entire Bible. Scripture is filled with information concerning redemption, but Acts 16:30, 31 is the only place from Genesis to Revelation where the question concerning eternal salvation is asked and answered in so many words.
Thus, within a completely biblical framework, if the question in Acts 16:30 is asked, there can only be one answer: “Believe . . . .” Man’s ideas, thoughts, comments are of no moment. God has spoken, and that’s the end of the matter.
(Note that the jailor at Philippi could not have been asking what he must do to be saved from death or saved from losing his position, as some infer.
The prisoners had not escaped; and, thus, death because of the loss of prisoners during his watch could not be forthcoming [v. 28]. Then, it would have been completely out of place for him to be asking Paul and Silas how he could be saved from losing his position, for they could not have had anything to do with the matter of his either retaining or losing his position.
Paul and Silas would be the ones to approach with a question concerning eternal salvation, which the jailor knew, and which the jailor did. And it is evident that Paul and Silas understood his question within this framework, for this is the manner in which his question was answered [vv. 30, 31].)
Some individuals have understood Acts 2:37, 38 to also ask and answer the question relating to eternal salvation. However, as seen in the text and context, this cannot be the case at all. Such a question is neither asked in verse thirty-seven nor is it answered in verse thirty-eight.
The question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” in verse thirty-seven can only be understood contextually, for the question is not completed in the same sense as seen in Acts 16:30. And, contextually, it is not possible to understand that these Jews were asking the same thing that the jailor at Philippi later asked Paul and Silas.
Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost concerned the fact that the Jewish people had crucified their Messiah, He had been raised from the dead, He had returned to heaven, and He was going to remain there until His enemies had been made His footstool (Acts 2:22-36). His stay in heaven would also extend to that time when those who offended Him (the Jewish people) had been brought to the place where they would acknowledge their offense (Hosea 5:15-6:2). Then, in that coming day after these things have come to pass, Joel’s prophecy, to which Peter first called attention, can be fulfilled (Acts 2:14-21).
Joel’s prophecy began to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, 33 A.D. Concerning events that had transpired on this day, Peter plainly stated, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” (v. 16). Note that he didn’t say, “This is something like that . . . .,” or “This is a fore view of that . . . .” The simple fact of the matter is that which occurred on the day of Pentecost was the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.
And, had Israel done what Peter told those Jews to do in Acts 2:38 — “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ [national repentance and baptism on the part of Israel]” — Christ would have returned, restored the kingdom to Israel, and Joel’s prophecy (that had begun to be fulfilled) would have been brought to completion.
Joel’s prophecy is Messianic in its scope of fulfillment and necessitates the presence of Israel’s Messiah in the nation’s midst (Joel 2:27), and the Israelites whom Peter addressed on the day of Pentecost undoubtedly knew these things. Their question, viewed not only within the framework of the context but also within the framework of the whole of Christ and the Apostles’ previous ministry, can only be understood as a reference to what the people of Israel had to do in order to effect the return of their Messiah, the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, and all kindred events. And Peter told them exactly what they had to do.
Israel though did not repent, and with the setting aside of the nation there was also a setting aside of events concerning Joel’s prophecy. The fulfillment of this prophecy waits for that future day when Israel will be restored and Israel’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be on earth in the nation’s midst.
Dispensational considerations must be involved in order to properly understand Acts 2:37, 38. These verses, as is Joel’s prophecy, are intimately connected with Israel. They have to do with the house of Israel at a time both past and future, not with unsaved man today — either Jew or Gentile.
Using these verses relative to eternal salvation is out of line with both the text and the context. And using these verses in this manner not only results in numerous false teachings and concepts about salvation by grace (placing both repentance and baptism in a completely wrong perspective relative to eternal salvation) but such a usage also does away with the correct understanding and interpretation of these verses.
The Clear, Simple Salvation Message
God’s message of eternal salvation in Scripture is so clear and simple that a child can understand all one needs to know in order to be saved. Christ has accomplished the work of redemption on man’s behalf, and His finished work has been extended to man as a “gift.” Unredeemed man can do no more than simply receive (or reject) God’s gift of redemption through His Son.
“Jesus paid it all,” and God is satisfied with the price which His Son has paid. As in the words of Jonah immediately before being delivered from the place of death, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
. . . Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3b)
This is the gospel of the grace of God, the good news, which unsaved man is to hear.
The completeness of the work of salvation through divine action and the total inability of unredeemed man to act in this realm is seen time after time in Scripture. And the beginning point, allowing a person to come into a correct and proper understanding of salvation by grace, has been placed by God at the very beginning of His Word, in the opening verses of Genesis. To understand the matter as God Himself has revealed it in His Word, one must begin at this point in Scripture and move progressively forward in the Word, viewing different facets of the subject in the order and after the manner in which God revealed them.
1) As Seen in the Earth’s Restoration
The Bible is a book of redemption; and basic, unchangeable teachings surrounding redemption are set forth at the very beginning of Scripture.
In the opening verses of Genesis God sets forth the unchangeable manner in which He, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, restores a ruined creation. There is a restorative work that follows a specific pattern, and the matter is accomplished entirely through divine intervention.
And within this pattern that is set forth and established in a perfect God-ordained fashion at the very beginning, God reveals how any subsequent ruined creation would, of necessity, have to be restored. It would have to be restored in complete accord with the established pattern. In this respect, it would have to be restored after a certain order, and it would have to be restored entirely through divine intervention.
Thus, to establish correct thinking relative to the fundamentals of salvation (restoration), as previously stated, one must begin where God began — in the opening verses of Genesis chapter one.
In these opening verses, God begins by revealing His creation of the heavens and the earth (v. 1). Then, immediately following this, in the first part of verse 2, God reveals that the earth became a ruin (which, as subsequent Scripture reveals, could only have resulted from God’s actions following Satan seeking a higher regal position than the one which he held [the God-appointed ruler over the earth (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:14-16)] and be “like the Most High” [be like the Ruler over the entire universe, like God Himself (Psalm 103:19)]).
Then, immediately following the statement in Genesis 1:2a concerning the ruin of the material creation, God reveals the means that He used to restore this ruined creation (vv. 1:2bff) — a restoration accomplished entirely through divine intervention.
The importance of understanding that which is revealed in these opening verses cannot be overemphasized, for man, a subsequent creation of God, also fell into a ruined state because of Satan’s actions (Genesis 1:26-28; 3:1ff). And if ruined man was to be restored (as the ruined material creation had previously been restored), it would have to be accomplished exactly in accordance with the previously established pattern. It would have to be accomplished exactly in accordance with the method that God revealed at the beginning of His Word concerning how He restores a ruined creation.
This is the first of numerous unchangeable ways in which God has revealed Himself, His plans, and His purposes to man in His Word.
Once God establishes a pattern, no change of it can ever occur. And He has forever established, once for all, at the very beginning of His Word, exactly how He goes about restoring a ruined creation.
Genesis 1:2b, 3 records the initial act of the triune Godhead in bringing about the restoration of the ruined material creation — an act in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each participated.
In this foundational pattern, forming a type, the Spirit of God moved, God spoke, and light came into existence (note that nothing can come into existence apart from the Son, who is “the light of the world” [John 1:3, 9; 9:5]).
And in the antitype, within the framework of man’s salvation experience, the matter is identical. Salvation can occur only through a work of the triune Godhead, and this divine work follows an established pattern.
Thus, there is an initial past work of the triune Godhead that foreshadows an initial present work of the triune Godhead:
In God’s initial past work of restoring the ruined material creation in Genesis chapter one, the Spirit of God moved, God spoke, and light came into existence.
In God’s initial present work of restoring ruined man, the Spirit of God moves, God speaks, and light comes into existence.
This is the manner in which God began/begins His unchangeable, restorative work.
And, relative to God’s present restorative work, foreshadowed by the foundational pattern surrounding His restorative work on day one in the type, everything within the outworking of that which is revealed in this pattern is based on one thing — the Son’s finished work at Calvary almost 2,000 years ago (progressively opened up and brought to light in subsequent types).
(Note that God’s initial restorative work, seen on day one in the Genesis account, is the only part of His six-day restorative work that has to do with salvation by grace. There had to be an initial work, producing light shining out of darkness, before God could continue His restorative work.
And exactly the same thing is true concerning ruined man today. Ruined man has to initially be made alive spiritually — pass “from death to life,” light has “to shine out of darkness” [John 1:5; 2 Corinthians 4:6] — before God can continue a restorative work.
Man today [saved man] has a redeemed spirit dwelling alongside an unredeemed soul, with both housed in an unredeemed body. That which is foreshadowed by God’s work on day one in the Genesis account had to do with man’s spirit, and that which is foreshadowed by His work on days two through six had to do with man’s soul, with the body to be redeemed at the end of that which is foreshadowed by God’s work throughout the entire six days.
Refer to the Appendix in this book or to the author’s book, Salvation of the Soul, for additional information on the preceding.)
When the Son cried out from the Cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30; cf. Luke 23:46), He (the living Word) meant exactly that; and when God’s Word reveals that we have a salvation of divine origin, based entirely on the Son’s finished work, this Word also means exactly what it states.
When man sinned in the garden, he died spiritually; and when unregenerate man, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), is made alive today, he is made alive spiritually. The movement of the Spirit (Genesis 1:2b) and God speaking (Genesis 1:3) in order to restore the ruined creation are simultaneous events. It is the Spirit using the God-breathed Word to effectually perform a supernatural work in unredeemed man.
It is at this point — through the in-breathing of God — that life is imparted to that which previously had no life. It is at this point that God breathes into lifeless man (the Spirit imparting life, in accordance with the God-breathed Word, based on Christ’s finished work), and man is “quickened [‘made alive’]” (Ephesians 2:1; cf. Genesis 2:7; 2 Timothy 3:16).
At this point, light shines “out of darkness” (2 Corinthians 4:6), a division is made between the light and the darkness (Genesis 1:4), and the darkness has no apprehension or comprehension of that which is light (John 1:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14).
The “spirit” of unsaved man, associated with “darkness,” is dead. It is a part of the totally depraved man, with his “body of . . . death,” in which there dwells “no good thing” (Romans 7:18, 24). But, with the movement of the Spirit — breathing life into unsaved, lifeless man — man’s spirit is made alive and, at the same time, separated from his soul (Hebrews 4:12).
The “soul” remains within the sphere of darkness, which is why “the natural [Greek: psuchikos, ‘soulical’] man” cannot understand “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). That which remains in the sphere of darkness can have no apprehension or comprehension of that which has shined out of darkness. There is a God-established division between the two that cannot be crossed over (cf. Luke 16:26).
Thus, the unchangeable method that God uses and the pattern that He follows to restore a ruined creation have forever been set forth at the beginning of His Word, through the account of God’s restoration of the ruined material creation.
Then, in Genesis chapter three, God’s new creation, man, finds himself in a ruined state. But he is not to be left in this state, for man, at this point, becomes the object of a new divine restorative work. And this work, as seen in the latter part of chapter three and subsequent types, follows that which had already been set forth in an unchangeable fashion in chapter one.
2) As Seen In Eden
Man, in the garden in Eden, following his eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, found himself in a ruined state. And man’s fall not only brought about his own ruin but that of the entire restored creation as well (Genesis 3:6-19).
As the federal head, the one created to hold the scepter that Satan held (Genesis 1:26-28), Adam’s fall “subjected” the whole of the restored creation to “the bondage of corruption” — the same thing which had resulted from Satan’s previous fall, following creation (Genesis 1:2a; Romans 8:20-22; cf. Isaiah 14:12-17; Jeremiah 4:23-28; Ezekiel 28:14-16).
Following Satan’s fall, there had been no redemption, leaving the material creation in a ruined state, with a restoration of the creation ultimately occurring only because of and for man. But things were different following man’s fall, which, of necessity, also resulted in things being different for the material creation as well.
Following man’s fall, God provided a means for his redemption, which, correspondingly, necessitated that the material creation would ultimately be removed from “the bondage of corruption.” The material creation had previously been restored for man, not Satan. It had been restored with a view to man rather than Satan holding the scepter and was, from that point forward, connected with man’s destiny. And as the ruin of the material creation at this time was inseparably linked to man’s fall, so is the future restoration of the material creation inseparably linked to man’s redemption.
Satan brought about man’s fall through a means very similar to that which had resulted in his own fall. Satan had sought to be “like the Most High,” and he deceived Eve into believing that she could be “as God” (literal translation) by partaking of the forbidden fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (cf. Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:14). However, in each instance, rather than individuals becoming “like the Most High,” “as God,” a ruined creation resulted.
Eve’s act of partaking of the fruit of the tree was not really climaxed until Adam had partaken also. Satan had to bring about Adam’s fall (as the federal head), not simply Eve’s fall alone. But, once Eve had partaken of the fruit of the tree, Adam had no choice but to also partake as well.
A part of his very being was in a fallen state (Eve, formed from a rib removed from his side, was bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh [Genesis 2:21-23]). Thus, Adam, as an incomplete being, was no longer in a position to eat of the tree of life (the tree that would have provided [for man, past] and will yet provide [for man, future] the necessary wisdom and knowledge to rule the earth).
(For information concerning the tree of life in the preceding respect, refer to the author’s book, The Bride in Genesis, Revised Edition, Appendix 2.)
Adam, apart from Eve, could no longer realize the purpose for his existence, something that Satan apparently knew. Thus, Adam followed what was really the only course of action available —cleaving to his wife (Genesis 2:24) — knowing that this was the only way he could bring about Eve’s redemption and ultimately find himself in the position of being able to partake of the tree of life as a complete being.
Adam was not deceived. And it is evident from the statement to this effect in 1 Timothy 2:14, along with comparing the type with the antitype, that Adam sinned with a full knowledge of that which he was doing.
Adam was a type of Christ (Romans 5:14; cf. Luke 24:27, 44); and, as a type of Christ, that which Adam did in Eden foreshadowed that which Christ did at Calvary
There is no other way to understand man’s fall, with Adam’s actions at the time typifying Christ’s actions in this same realm 4,000 years later.
Adam found his bride (a part of his very being, removed from his body) in a fallen state; and he then partook of that which is associated with sin and death. Christ, in like manner, found His bride (a part of His very being, to be removed from His body) in a fallen state; and allowed Himself to be made sin, which was followed by death (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; 2 Corinthians 5:21). And the purpose behind the actions of both individuals centered around three things:
b) Ultimately being able to partake of the tree of life as complete beings.
c) Ultimately bringing to pass the reason for man’s creation in the beginning.
Following Adam’s sin, divine intervention in man’s salvation is further seen through God slaying innocent animals to clothe Adam’s and Eve’s naked bodies (Genesis 3:21). Death occurred, blood was shed, and a covering was provided, pointing ahead 4,000 years to Calvary where death would again occur, blood would again be shed, and a covering would again be provided.
(Actually, the blood of Christ does more than cover sin. The blood of Christ does away with sin, which is the thought behind the Greek words translated “reconcile” and “reconciliation” in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
These two Greek words are katallage and katallasso [noun and verb forms of the same word, meaning the same thing]. These words are derived from allasso, which means “to change,” “to transform.” And allasso is derived from allos, which means “other,” “another.” Thus, the root derivation of katallage and katallasso is allos.
In the preceding respect, the thought behind katallage and katallasso, as the words are used in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, would be to change sin into something other than that which exists, notcover sin as seen in “atonement” in the Old Testament. And a change of the nature seen in the text could only be accomplished through one means — doing away with sin.)
Man has been redeemed through Christ’s shed blood at Calvary (1 Peter 1:18, 19); and, in the light of the type, Christ’s finished work at Calvary allows God to clothe His creation, not with animal skins as in Eden, but with the very righteousness of Christ, in which sin does not, cannot, exist (cf.Zechariah 3:3-5).
God has imputed this righteousness to every believer (Romans 4:24, 25; 5:12-18), and within the scope of justification, God views redeemed man, positionally, as being just as righteous as His Son. That would be to say, God views every believer, positionally, as being just as righteous as He Himself is righteous, for the Son is God manifested in the flesh.
Thus, redemption, as seen in Eden, is accomplished entirely through divine intervention. The Son’s finished work at Calvary is foreshadowed by Adam partaking of the forbidden fruit; and the Son’s finished work allows God to clothe His creation in righteousness, as foreshadowed by Adam and Eve being clothed in animal skins.
3) As Seen in Cain Slaying Abel
In Genesis chapter four, Abel and his sacrifice(s) typifies Christ and His sacrifice. In this chapter one finds death (the slaying of lambs, and the subsequent slaying of an individual) and shed blood.
Abel presented lambs for a blood sacrifice at a set time in a particular place. Then he himself became the sacrifice when his brother, Cain, rose up against him and slew him.
Christ presented Himself — the Lamb of God — for a blood sacrifice at a set time in a particular place. In this respect, He, by the sacrifice of Himself, fulfilled both parts of the type surrounding Abel’s experiences. The sacrifice of lambs and the death of Abel foreshadow the death of Christ, the sacrificed Lamb.
God requires shed blood to atone for (cover) man’s sin (or, in New Testament terminology, do awaywith man’s sin). This is a truth established in Eden immediately following Adam’s sin. God slew innocent animals — which necessitated shed blood — and clothed Adam and Eve with the animal skins (Genesis 3:21).
And God’s work after this fashion, because of man’s sin, sets forth a dual truth relative to salvation that remains unchanged throughout Scripture:
a) “Salvation is of the Lord” — man, as Adam, can only remain completely passive (Jonah 2:9).
b) “. . . without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22) — death and shed blood are that which God requires (cf. Genesis 3:21).
Abel is a type of Christ, and Cain slaying Abel foreshadows Israel slaying Christ. The recorded account in Genesis chapter four is that of one brother slaying another brother; and the recorded account in the four gospels 4,000 years later is exactly the same — one brother slaying another brother.
(Israel is God’s firstborn son [Exodus 4:22], and Jesus is God’s firstborn Son [Hebrews 1:6]. Israel is God’s only adopted, firstborn son; and Jesus is God’s only begotten, firstborn Son. Consequently, Israel and Cain are both guilty of the same sin — that of fratricide, that of slaying one’s own brother.)
Cain, because of Abel’s acceptance and his own rejection, rose up against his brother and slew him in the field, a type of “the world” (Matthew 13:38).
It was during the time God’s Son was in the world that Israel rose up against Him, as Cain rose up against Abel, and committed the same violent act. Israel slew Christ, as Cain had slain Abel 4,000 years earlier, fulfilling the type that God had established.
In the type, the blood of Abel cried out to the Lord “from the ground” (Genesis 4:10); but in the antitype, the blood of Christ “speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24).
The account of Cain slaying Abel is the third major part of a multifaceted Old Testament word picture depicting all the different things surrounding God’s provision of salvation for fallen man.
The first three parts of this word picture are presented in the first four chapters of Genesis.
The first part of the picture (chapter 1) presents basic foundational truths, which, apart from the remaining facets of the word picture, cannot be properly understood.
The second and the third parts of the picture (Genesis 3, 4) then begin to add to and build upon the foundation previously set forth in chapter one, progressively bringing the complete picture more into focus.
And subsequent parts of the picture (e.g., Genesis 22; Exodus 12; Numbers 21) continue to add details, ultimately bringing the whole matter into perfect focus in the only composite word picture of salvation that God has provided.
Note how much has been provided in the first four chapters of Genesis thus far, though still only beginning to form that which can later, through additional revelation, eventually be seen as a complete picture:
Chapter one centers on God’s revealed means for restoring a ruined creation. Relative to salvation by grace, revealed through God’s work on day one, the Spirit moves, God speaks, and light comes into existence.
The Spirit breathes life into the one having no life (cf. Genesis 2:7), and the one who was “dead in trespasses and sins” passes “from death to life” (John 5:24; Ephesians 2:1). “Light” then shines out of the place where only darkness had previously existed, and a division is made between the light and the darkness.
But, in order to provide understanding concerning exactly what is occurring in this opening part of the word picture that God has provided, there is more, far more, which must be added to complete the picture. And these additional parts of the picture begin to be opened up and revealed in Genesis chapters three and four. Then they continue to be further opened up and revealed in different places in subsequent Scriptures.
Chapter three, adding to the picture, reveals that God requires death and shed blood, and this chapter also introduces a truth more fully developed and opened up in later revelation: a Man, who knew no sin, would be made sin for the one who had sinned.
Then chapter four adds more details, bringing the two main things seen in chapter three together. Not only does God require death and shed blood, but this chapter introduces another truth more fully developed and opened up in later revelation:
The Man who would be made sin is also the One who would die and shed His blood. And, beyond that, this would be a vicarious death.
And subsequent types continue with more details surrounding that which has already been revealed. God, in the Old Testament Scriptures, within the numerous types, has set forth all the different aspects of the work of His Son at Calvary. There is uniformity throughout; and each type presents different facets of the matter, with each subsequent type adding to the details already given in previous types. Then, all of the types together form one complete word picture, which allows man, through the means that God Himself has provided, to come into a full knowledge and understanding of salvation by grace.
4) As Seen in Abraham Offering Isaac
Genesis chapter twenty-two presents the account of Abraham offering his son for a burnt-offering upon a particular mountain in the land of Moriah, in accordance with God’s command.
Following God’s command to offer his son after this fashion, the record presents Abraham acting in unquestioned obedience. Apart from any remonstrance or delay whatsoever, Abraham took his son, two servants, the necessary provisions for the sacrifice, and began the journey toward the mount (vv.2, 3).
God was very particular about the place where Isaac was to be offered. The land of Moriah was the region where Jerusalem was later built (2 Chronicles 3:1). And the designated place of sacrifice in this region, located three days’ journey from Abraham and Isaac’s home in the land of Gerar (v. 4), was a mount later described by Abraham after two fashions:
a) The place where “God will provide himself [lit., ‘provide for Himself’] a lamb.”
b) By the name, “Jehovahjireh,” meaning “the Lord will provide” (Genesis 22: 8, 14).
The designated place was thus a mount in the land of Moriah where the Lord Himself would provide the sacrifice, a lamb.
The reason that God was very particular about the place of sacrifice during Abraham’s day is apparent. There are only two occurrences of human sacrifices under God’s direction in all Scripture. One occurs in Genesis chapter twenty-two where Abraham offered his son, and the other occurs in the gospel accounts where God offered His Son, the greater Son of Abraham.
It appears evident that Abraham offered his son at the same place where God would, 2,000 years later, offer His Son. This was the mount where the Lord would provide the sacrifice, which is exactly what He did during both Abraham’s day and 2,000 years later when He offered His own Son.
As Abraham was about to slay his son upon the mount, God stayed his hand; and a ram (a male sheep) caught in the thicket was provided as a substitute. The ram died in the stead of Isaac (a vicarious death), providing substitutionary atonement. The ram died in order that Isaac might live (vv. 9-13).
When God offered the greater Son of Abraham upon this mount, the Son Himself, God’s provided Lamb (John 1:29, 36), was the One who died (as in the type, a vicarious death), providing substitutionary atonement (“reconciliation” — a doing away with sin — in New Testament terminology). He shed His blood and experienced death Himself in order that others, through Him, might live.
Abraham and Isaac were alone on the mount. The two men accompanying them remained a distance from the mount and neither partook of nor saw the events that transpired. Abraham and Isaac alone entered into these events (vv. 5ff).
The same thing occurred at Calvary. Though there were people a distance from the scene (Matthew 27:36, 54, 55), as in Abraham’s day, the events were closed to their view or participation.
From the sixth to the ninth hour (noon to 3 P.M.) darkness enveloped the entire land (Matthew 27:45), and it was during this time that the Son bore “our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). He drank the “cup” previously set before Him in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44), allowing Himself to be made “sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21); and God had to turn away from His own Son during this time, causing the Son to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Abraham and his son alone participated in events set forth in the type, and God and His Son alone participated in events set forth in the antitype. Divine intervention on man’s behalf is seen throughout.
Isaac, in the type, insofar as the record is concerned, offered no resistance as he was bound and placed on the altar upon the wood. He willingly allowed himself to be the sacrifice.
God’s Son, likewise, in the antitype, offered no resistance as He moved toward Calvary. He willingly endured the Cross, allowing Himself to be the Sacrifice, a Sacrifice that would do away with sin (Hebrews 9:26; 12:2).
As Abraham “stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son,” he was stopped from doing so by the angel of the Lord; and a “ram caught in a thicket by its horns” was provided as an offering “instead of his son.” The ram died in Isaac’s place. The wages of sin (death) were satisfied via a substitute (Genesis 22:10-13).
The wages of sin today, likewise, have been satisfied in the person of a Substitute. God has provided “for Himself a Lamb.” The Lord Jesus Christ has paid the price that God requires.
And God is satisfied with the price that His Son has paid:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Man can either receive Jesus Christ, who has paid the wages of sin on his behalf, or man can reject Christ and pay the penalty himself. The Lamb has died, but the death of the Lamb is insufficient without the application of the blood (Exodus 12:6, 7, 12, 13).
Man must, personally, himself, appropriate that which God has provided through the death of His Son at Calvary. Man must, personally, himself, receive that which has been made possible through the finished work of God’s Son at Calvary.
And this salvation is offered as a gift — absolutely free — to anyone who will, by faith, receive the gift (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
5) As Seen in the Death of the Firstborn
Exodus chapters eleven and twelve record the death of the firstborn in Egypt during Moses’ day, four hundred years beyond the birth of Isaac. God had decreed that the firstborn of both man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt must die. This included those in the household of every Israelite and Egyptian family alike — from the most obscure Israelite family to the household of Pharaoh itself. No firstborn throughout Egypt (even in the animal kingdom) was excluded from this decree (Exodus 11:4-6).
However, the Lord made a distinction between the Israelites and the Egyptians by providing Israel with a substitute that could die in the place of, in the stead of, the firstborn in the family (Exodus 11:7; 12:3ff).
Each Israelite family was to take a lamb from the flock on the tenth day of the month, keep the lamb penned in a separate place until the fourteenth day, and then slay the lamb “in the evening.” Following the death of the lamb, blood from the lamb, which had been caught in a basin, was to be taken and applied to “the two side posts” and “the upper door post” of the house in which the Israelite family dwelled (Exodus 12:3-7, 22).
A few hours later, “at midnight,” the Lord was to pass through the land of Egypt and execute the previously decreed sentence. Death would befall all the firstborn throughout the entire land of Egypt at this time. No distinction would be made between those in the households of the Egyptians or the Israelites in this respect, for the firstborn in every household was under exactly the same sentence.
(“Midnight” is used in Scripture referring to judgment. The first use of this word occurs in Exodus 11:4, relative to judgment befalling the firstborn, establishing an unchangeable pattern [cf. Ruth 3:2, 8; Matthew 3:11, 12; 25:6-12].)
The distinction that God established between the Israelites and the Egyptians lay, not in excluding the Israelites from the sentence decreed upon the firstborn, but in providing the Israelites with a means of substitutionary death. The paschal lamb in Exodus chapters eleven and twelve was given to Israel, and only those in Israel could slay this lamb. And for an Egyptian family to have had a part in the provided substitutionary atonement the night of the Passover, that family would have had to go to Israel (cf. John 4:22).
When the Lord passed through the land of Egypt at midnight, He looked for one thing. He looked for the BLOOD of a slain lamb on the door posts and lintel of each house.
If the blood was there, He passed over that house simply because He knew that death had already occurred. The firstborn had already died in that household. A lamb from the flock had died in his place, and the Lord looked upon the matter just as if the firstborn in the family had himself died.
However, if there was no blood on the door posts and lintel — with no respect given as to whether it was an Egyptian or an Israelite household — the firstborn himself died. The absence of blood showed that death had not occurred in that house, and the firstborn from every household had to die, himself, personally; but the Lord provided for and recognized a vicarious death.
It cannot be over emphasized that the Lord looked for one thing and one thing only when He passed through the land of Egypt at midnight. He looked for BLOOD on the door posts and lintel of each house — nothing more, nothing less.
The blood not only had to be shed but it also had to be properly applied. Once the Lord saw the blood, He looked no further. Insofar as the death of the firstborn was concerned, nothing else was of any moment. God was satisfied.
And it is the same today. The firstborn is under the sentence of death, and God has provided a Substitute — “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). He has shed His blood; but the blood, as in the type, must be properly applied, which is accomplished through a simple act of faith:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
As in Egypt the night of the Passover, insofar as the death of the firstborn is concerned, nothing else is of any moment. Apart from believing, unredeemed man today can do nothing.
The Israelites during Moses’ day could do nothing but apply the blood of lambs, slain on their behalf; and man today can do nothing but apply the blood of the Lamb, which has been slain on his behalf.
And, as during Moses’ day, once this has been done, God recognizes a substitutionary death as having occurred, resulting in His satisfaction.
. . . it is appointed for men to die once . . . . (Hebrews 9:27)
A man can either keep this appointment in Christ or apart from Christ. That is, he can elect to either receive the One who has kept the appointment on his behalf, or he can elect to keep the appointment himself.
For those who have believed, the blood has been properly applied to show that the firstborn has died; and that’s the end of the matter.
For those though who have not believed, there is no proper application of the blood; and the end of the matter awaits.
(Note that Exodus chapters eleven and twelve address, in no uncertain terms, an issue often brought up today: “Who was responsible for Christ’s death?”
In these two chapters, God gave the paschal lamb to Israel, and only Israel was in possession of and could slay this lamb. In that which is foreshadowed by the type, Christ was the Paschal Lamb; and, exactly as in the type, only Israel was in possession of and could slay the Lamb [Christ came to Israel and presented Himself to the nation (Matthew 15:24; John 1:11)]. And, beyond that, beginning with the type in Genesis chapter four, Scripture clearly attributes this act to Israel [cf. Matthew 23:37-39; 27:25; Luke 13:33;Acts 2:23, 36; 3:17; 4:10; 5:28-30; 7:52].
Seeking to absolve Israel of this act — something very evident within and without Christendom today — is man’s way, within his finite thinking, of seeking to distance himself from that which he sees as anti-Semitism [seeing the Jewish people as the ones responsible for Christ’s death]. But, in reality, exactly the opposite is true. Seeking to absolve and remove Israel from any connection with Christ’s death is one of the most heinous, anti-Semitic acts ever perpetrated against the Jewish people.
If Israel could be absolved of and removed from the position that Scripture plainly attributes to the nation, that of Christ’s death, note what would have to be the result. Such thinking, if carried to its logical conclusion, would do away with God’s provided means of salvation for anyone, Jew or Gentile. And, in that respect, such thinking would not only be anti-Semitic but anti-God and anti-human-race, for God’s entire redemptive plan would be voided and mankind [Jew and Gentile alike] would have no Savior.
And the Biblical reasoning for that is very simple. Apart from Israel slaying the Paschal Lamb in 33 A.D., there can be no salvation for unsaved humanity [John 4:24], for, again, only Israel could slay the Lamb. And, to slay this particular Lamb, God’s Son [after God, through Israel, had provided the Lamb (cf. Genesis 22:8)], is the central reason God called the nation into existence. All other reasons for Israel’s existence rest upon and are dependent on this fact.
And, instead of being anti-Semitic, seeing Israel as the slayer is one of the most pro-Semitic acts in existence. And the reasoning for that is very simple as well. Through this act, Israel has provided man with a Savior; apart from this act, man would not have a Savior [cf. Numbers chapter thirty-five (ref. the author’s book, The Time of the End, Appendix 2, “The Death of the High Priest,”)].
And, while thinking along the preceding lines, a person might also want to consider which group of people God used to give mankind a Jewish Book to tell them about this Jewish Savior. And, to carry the matter one step further, a person might also want to consider which group of people God has used, continues to use, and will always use as the channel through which all spiritual blessings for mankind flow, with the provision of a Savior being the ultimate of all possible blessings.)
6) As Seen in Moses Lifting Up the Brazen Serpent
During His earthly ministry Jesus drew from Jewish history on numerous occasions in order to teach great spiritual lessons. While speaking to Nicodemus, with the events of Calvary in view, He called attention to the account of Moses lifting up the brazen serpent in the wilderness and likened this event to His being lifted up on the Cross at a future time (John 3:14; cf. John 12:32, 33; Numbers 21:5-9).
The account of the brazen serpent being placed on a pole was thus singled out by Christ as a type of His being placed on the Cross. God had brought certain events to pass under His sovereign direction and control of all things during Moses’ day in order that He, at a later time, might have these events to draw upon in teaching His people great spiritual truths concerning the events surrounding Calvary.
In the camp of Israel during Moses’ day, the people had sinned in a twofold manner:
a) By speaking against both God and His appointed leader, Moses.
b) By loathing the manna that God had provided for food to sustain them during their wilderness journey.
They spoke against both God and Moses because of their being in the wilderness, facing death (due to their previous refusal to believe God and enter the land at Kadesh-Barnea); and they had grown tired of the food that God had provided, resulting in their provoking and tempting God by asking for “meat” in place of the manna (cf. Numbers 20:5; Psalm 78:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 10:9).
The Israelites tempted God by trying Him to the limit. This is the manner in which the compound Greek word translated “tempted” in 1 Corinthians 10:9 should literally be understood (this is also the same word used in the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament in Psalm 78:18, referring to the same incident).
After God had been tried to the limit, judgment fell. He sent poisonous “fiery serpents among the people [‘fiery’ — referring to a burning, inflammatory bite],” and many Israelites died as a result of being bitten by these serpents.
The people of Israel, experiencing God’s judgment after this fashion, then went to Moses and acknowledged their sin. Moses interceded on behalf of the people, and the Lord provided the antidote. Moses was instructed to make a serpent of brass and place it on a pole; and any Israelite who had been bitten by a serpent could look upon the brazen serpent and be healed.
The type brought over into the antitype, as Christ referred to both aspects of the matter, has to do with truths surrounding God’s judgment upon sin, the finished work of Another, and the fact that man can do no more than simply receive that which has already been done.
(Note that the primary interpretation of the account of Moses lifting up the brazen serpent in Numbers chapter twenty-one would, of necessity, because of the context, have to do with the sins of a people who had already appropriated the blood of the paschal lambs in Egypt [Exodus 12]. But Christ used this event in another respect — as a type of that previously seen through the death of these paschal lambs [one type reflecting back on a previous type, both pointing to the antitype].)
Moses was a type of Christ; and the brazen serpent was used in a metaphorical respect, pointing to Christ. Moses performed the work; he was the one who made the serpent and placed it on a pole. The Israelites who had been bitten by the serpents that God had sent into the camp had no part in any of this work.
After the work had been completed and the serpent affixed to a pole, the antidote for that resulting from sin was then available. Those who had been bitten by the serpents sent into the camp were told simply to look and live. That’s all they were instructed to do. And it is recorded,
. . . if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (Numbers 21:7-9)
Carrying these same truths over into Christ’s finished work at Calvary, man, under the sentence of death, is just as helpless as the Israelites who had been bitten by the serpents, necessitating Another to act on his behalf.
In the type, serpents were responsible for the condition of the Israelites, and a serpent was brought forth as the remedy.
In the antitype it is the same. A man was responsible for the condition, and a Man was brought forth as the remedy. The first man, the first Adam, was responsible for the condition; and the second Man, the last Adam, provided the cure (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45-47).
And just as Moses performed all of the work on the Israelites’ behalf in the type, with the people under the sentence of death being told simply to look and live, so it is in the antitype. Christ has performed all of the work on man’s behalf, and the only thing which man can do, as in the type, islook and live.
The serpent being formed from brass, in accordance with God’s instructions, is in perfect keeping with that which is seen throughout the type. “Brass” in Scripture speaks of judgment (cf. Exodus 27:1-8; 30:18-21; Revelation 1:15). God judged sin in the camp of Israel during the wilderness journey, and He also judged sin at Calvary; and sin was judged after such a fashion, in both instances, that God was satisfied.
The Israelites looked; and, by so doing, they, at the same time, through looking, exercised faith. They believed what God had said, and their acting on this belief (looking, as God had commanded) was the act of faith that God required (Acts 16:30, 31; cf. Hebrews 11:6).
Nothing more was required then, and nothing more is required today. It was look and live then, and it is look and live today.
It was look toward the place sin had been judged in that day, believing that God meant exactly what He had said, resulting in God’s satisfaction; and it is look toward the place sin has been judged today, believing that God means exactly what He has said, resulting in God’s satisfaction.
The six Old Testament types referenced — beginning with the foundational type in Genesis chapterone and ending with a sixth type in Numbers chapter twenty-one — by no means present the complete Old Testament word picture. But these six types, viewed together and in the light of one another, present a picture that is sufficiently complete for the purpose at hand — a correct overall understanding of salvation by grace.
a) As Seen in the Earth’s Restoration.
b) As Seen in Eden.
c) As Seen in Cain Slaying Abel.
d) As Seen in Abraham Offering Isaac.
e) As Seen in the Death of the Firstborn.
f) As Seen in Moses Lifting Up the Brazen Serpent.
Salvation by grace in the New Testament must be viewed in the light of the way God began His revelation on the subject in the Old Testament. Only through this means can an individual properly grasp and understand, from a completely biblical perspective, Paul and Silas’ statement in Acts 16:31, as they responded to the question in the previous verse:
What must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30)
Again, the answer is simple. You can’t do anything. It has all been done on your behalf. Simply “believe [put your trust in, your reliance in]” the One who paid it all at Calvary. Then, and only then, will God look upon sin as having been judged in your life, personally, based on the finished work of His Son.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31)
Confusion about Salvation
For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
The Church has entered a rather strange era during the past several decades. The clear, simple message of salvation by grace through faith has come under attack, not from without, but from within the ranks of what is looked upon as fundamental Christianity itself; and the distorted message being promulgated, rather than being rejected, is finding ready acceptance.
In essence, individuals are being told that more is required than simple belief. They are being told that a person must go beyond this and make Christ Lord of his life; he must possess saving faith, which will result in works; he must live after a certain fashion, bring forth fruit, etc.
And the converse of the preceding is often brought into the picture. Christians are being told that if works do not follow a person’s profession of faith, if that person doesn’t live a certain way, if he doesn’t bring forth fruit, then he has never possessed saving faith. That is to say, the person has never been saved.
Then, usually in connection with the preceding and to further complicate the matter, the expression “easy believism” is being thrown around. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is made to be something completely alien to that which Scripture teaches. That is, “believing” is made to be difficult, or the word “believe” is being redefined to make it mean something that it doesn’t mean at all.
Why do these problems exist within the ranks of that segment of Christianity where there should be a clear understanding and proclamation of the message surrounding salvation by grace through faith? The answer is really very simple, though it is an answer involving matters not understood at all by numerous Christians, allowing the problems to exist.
By Grace through Faith
At the outset of this study, before looking at the central problem, note that which Scripture teaches about salvation by grace through faith.
The clear gospel message, the good news, is:
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3)
And that which Christ has done on our behalf allows God, through His Spirit, to impart life to unredeemed man, who is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). It allows God, through His Spirit to breathe life into the one having no life, with the person then passing “from death to life” (John 5:24).
The Spirit breathes life into lifeless man solely on the basis of that which Christ has done on man’s behalf. And unsaved man can do no more than receive that which has already been done for him. Nothing else enters into the matter.
When Christ referred to His finished work immediately before His death on the Cross, He cried out in “a loud voice” — Tetelestai — one word, which has been translated in the English text, “It is finished” (John 19:30; cf. Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46). Tetelestai is the perfect tense form of the Greek verb, teleo, which means “to bring something to an end or completion.” This word in the perfect tense could be more accurately expressed and translated, “It has been finished,” or “It has been completed.”
That to which Christ referred in John 19:30 was His work of redemption. The perfect tense that He used refers to a work completed in past time, with the results of that work extending into and existing during present time in a finished state. At the moment Christ cried out, announcing that His work had been completed, there was then no reason for His death to be prolonged. The blood of the Passover Lamb had been shed, and God had “laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5, 6, 12; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). Thus, at this time, He bowed his head and gave up His spirit [lit., comparing the other gospel accounts, ‘He breathed out,’ i.e., He expired, willingly giving up His life]” (John 10:17, 18; 19:30).
Redeemed man has been saved by grace through faith solely on the basis of that which Christ referred to when He cried out from the Cross, “Tetelestai.” The words “are you saved [lit. ‘you have been saved’]” in Ephesians 2:8 — “For by grace you have been saved . . . .” — are also the translation of a perfect tense in the Greek text. The reference, as tetelestai, is to a work completed in past time, with the results of this work extending into the present and existing in a finished state.
At the moment a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ (places his trust, reliance in Christ, i.e., receives, by faith, that which Christ has done on his behalf), the Spirit not only breathes life into that person but the Spirit also takes up His abode in the individual (cf. Genesis 1:2b; 2:7; Ezekiel 37:1;1 Corinthians 6:19). Through this means, the man passing “from death to life” becomes a new creation “in Christ,” a part of the one new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:1, 15).
Redeemed man thus possesses a salvation wherein everything pertaining to works/actions is past. The work necessary to effect one’s salvation (Christ’s work) is past and complete, and the work effecting one’s salvation itself (the Spirit’s work) is past and complete. The latter (the Spirit’s work) is based on the former (Christ’s work). Thus, divine intervention on man’s behalf is the only work seen throughout.
Relative to one’s presently possessed eternal salvation, redeemed man did nothing in the past, nor can he do anything present or future. Salvation was and remains “of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
Redeemed man possesses a present, completed salvation based on the past, completed work of Another. Both man’s present salvation and Christ’s past work exist in a finished state, and neither can ever be altered, changed, added to, taken from, etc. One’s salvation is just as complete and secure as the work upon which it rests.
(For divine intervention throughout the work surrounding Man’s presently possessed eternal salvation, along with the corresponding complete absence of any action on man’s part, refer to the original type in Chapter 1 of this book [“As Seen in the Earth’s Restoration,” pp. 5-8], which all subsequent types on the subject, along with the antitype, must follow.)
“Easy Believism” is a rather strange expression, especially when one considers the manner in which it is used today. Scripture presents salvation after one fashion alone — by grace through faith (i.e., through believing) — and no place in Scripture is believing on the Lord Jesus Christ ever presented as something difficult.
Man, in his perversion of the clear teaching of salvation by grace through faith, has sought to make believing difficult; and he has coined the expression, “easy believism,” which, in reality, reflects, in a negative way, on that which Scripture teaches in this realm.
Such is also part and parcel with what has come to be called, “Lordship Salvation.” This expression is actually a misnomer, for there is no such thing as “Lordship Salvation.” Salvation is one thing, and Lordship is another. Christ exercising control over one’s life, as the word “Lordship” portends, can never be used in conjunction with eternal salvation. Such must always be subsequent to one’s salvation experience.
An unsaved person is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). He is incapable of making Christ Lord of something that he doesn’t even possess. He must first pass “from death to life” (John 5:24). Then, and only then, can the matter of “Lordship” enter into the matter.
Nor would it be correct to say that unsaved man, in order to be saved, has to believe to the extent that Christ becomes, after some fashion, at the moment of belief or at some subsequent time, Lord of his life. That is, as it is sometimes expressed, “True belief will result in a salvation that cannot be separated from obedience.”
Such a thought would be absurd. Life being brought into existence on the one hand and obedience on the other (the one having been made alive following the leadership of the Lord as He exercises control over that life) are two different things entirely. Both could not possibly be brought to pass at the same time.
Scripturally, spiritual control of one’s life always appears in connection with maturity in the faith, not in connection with initially exercising faith, resulting in salvation. And a Christian may or may not experience spiritual growth in this respect, which can have nothing to do with a prior belief, which allowed him to pass “from death to life.”
A servant within a household in the world today may or may not submit to his master’s wishes, but such submission has nothing whatsoever to do with his being or not being a servant. It has to do with his being a faithful or an unfaithful servant.
And this is exactly the way Scripture presents the matter. Becoming a servant in the Lord’s house is one thing, but submission as a servant in the house is something entirely different. The latter isalways subsequent to — never in connection with — the former.
There is nothing difficult about believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, becoming a Christian, entering into servitude. Grace on God’s part and difficulty on man’s part are incompatibles in the message pertaining to eternal salvation. Difficulty on man’s part arises only after he becomes a Christian, only after he possesses a life in which such difficulty can manifest itself.
How easy is it for an unsaved man to exercise faith, resulting in salvation? It’s just as easy as it was for the Israelites in Egypt during Moses’ day to apply the blood of a slain lamb to the door posts and lintel of the houses in which they dwelled (Exodus 12:3-7); or it’s just as easy as it was for these same Israelites, later in the wilderness, to look upon the brazen serpent that had been raised up on a pole (Numbers 21:5-9).
“Christ our Passover” has been “sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7), and the blood can be applied through a simple act of faith; or Christ, as the serpent in the wilderness, has been lifted up, “That whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14, 15).
How simple and easy is salvation? It was during Moses’ day and remains today, Look and live. It’s that simple and easy.
Why Then the Problem?
Becoming a Christian and growing spiritually in the Christian life is likened in Scripture to a child being born in the world and growing in the physical realm. There is a specific bringing forth as a newborn baby, which is to be followed by growth from immaturity to maturity in both instances (John 3:16; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:1, 2; 1 John 2:12-14).
In the physical realm, a child grows from a newborn baby to a mature adult in order to fulfill a purpose in life. He grows physically through a proper diet and mentally through years of training — both within and without the home. He exercises his body and his mind as he receives a proper diet and training, growing after this fashion. Ideally, the better he is prepared both physically and mentally, the better he will be able to function in life.
In the spiritual realm, matters are identical. A newborn babe in Christ is to grow from immaturity to maturity for a purpose. His food for proper growth is spiritual, for it is a spiritual growth. It is the Manna from heaven, the Living Word of God. He is to begin with “milk” and progressively move to “meat” and “strong meat” (cf. 1 Peter 2:1, 2; Hebrews 5:12-14).
Inseparably connected with the reception of the Word is training at the hands of the Father (Hebrews 12:5-11). The words “chastening,” “chastens,” and “chastisement” (KJV) in these verses have to do with a training process, not with the Christian being disciplined per se, though the training process may involve discipline (cf. v. 7).
(The words “chastening,” “chastens,” and “chastisement (KJV),” in Hebrews 12:5-8 are translations of noun and verb forms of a word referring to young children [paideia andpaideuo], and these words refer to the instruction or training of children. And, contextually, this is a training of those whom God views as “sons,” looking out ahead to these sons one day being elevated into positions of power and authority with God’s Son in His kingdom.
For additional information on Hebrews 12:5-8 and child-training, with a view to sonship in the preceding respect, refer to the author’s book, God’s Firstborn Sons, Chapter 3.)
The entire process allows the indwelling Holy Spirit to progressively work the transformation (Greek: metamorphoo, a metamorphosis) of Romans 12:2 in one’s life — a transforming work, beginning from within. And the more one progresses spiritually within the scope of the metamorphosis, the better prepared he will become, the better equipped he will be, to realize and fulfill his calling in life.
Every Christian is a servant in the Lord’s house, and every Christian has been called to exercise some particular sphere of responsibility therein (Matthew 25:14ff; Luke 19:13ff). Household servants have been placed in charge of their Lord’s goods, which are of a spiritual nature, not material. And the proper use of that which is spiritual within the house requires training in spiritual matters. This is why there must be a progressive work of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, effecting the metamorphosis. This is why there must be a progression from immaturity to maturity in the faith.
To achieve this end, God has placed pastor-teachers in His Church. They are the ones who have been commissioned to lead the household servants from immaturity to maturity in spiritual matters in order that the servants might properly function within the scope of their individual, particular callings.
And He Himself gave some . . . pastors and teachers [lit., pastor-teachers];
for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge [Greek, epignosis, mature knowledge] of the Son of God, to a perfect [‘a complete’] man . . . . (Ephesians 4:11-13a).
(The words “pastors and teachers” in Ephesians 4:11 are structured in the Greek text in a manner that requires that the two nouns refer to the same individual — pastors, who are teachers, i.e., pastor-teachers.)
There though has been a breakdown within God’s order in Christendom; and this breakdown is of such a nature that, resultantly, gross error has supplanted biblical truth to the point that it has reached even into the very realm of soteriology itself (the doctrine of salvation). Pastor-teachers, over the years, have failed to fulfill their calling. The saints have not been led from immaturity to maturity. Household servants are in no position to handle that which is spiritual, for they lack the necessary spiritual training; and as a result, the house is in disarray. Churches today are filled with immature Christians who can be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). It is that period of Church history depicted by the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-21), the terminal period of the present dispensation.
This is not something that has occurred overnight, or even in the past few years or decades. It has been occurring ever since the woman in the parable in Matthew 13:33 placed leaven in the three measures of meal, depicting an act of Satan, which could only have occurred very early in the dispensation; and the leaven has been doing its corrupting, damaging work since that time.
Leaven works best in a place where the temperature is not too hot or too cold. Note the “lukewarm” condition of the church in Laodicea in this respect (Revelation 3:16). The leaven, after numerous centuries of deteriorating work, is being brought into the advanced stages of its action and is doing its most damaging work within the lukewarm confines of the church in Laodicea near the end of the present dispensation, during the very time in which we presently live.
The working of this leaven is going to be so complete by the end of the dispensation that the Lord, while upon earth, looking centuries ahead, asked a question concerning conditions on the earth at the time of His return:
. . . when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith [the faith] on the earth? (Luke 18:8b)
The response to the question, designated by the wording of the Greek text, is negative. The Son of Man will not find “the faith” (an expression peculiarly related to the Word of the Kingdom) on the earth when He returns. Rather, He will find conditions as depicted in Revelation 3:14ff.
1) The Faith
The Master of the house has gone back to heaven in order to receive a kingdom from His Father (Luke 19:12). God rules over all. He is the One who places and removes rulers within the kingdom (Daniel 4:17, 25), and He will one day remove Satan from the position that he occupies (Revelation 12:4, 9; 20:1-3) and will place His Son in this position (Daniel 7:14; Revelation 19:11-16; 20:4-6).
During the time between the Son’s departure to receive the kingdom and His return in possession ofthe kingdom, Christ has left His business to servants in charge of His household, for a particular purpose. And this purpose involves the kingdom He has gone away to receive.
The coming kingdom of Christ will require numerous regents and vice-regents to ascend the throne and to hold positions of power and authority with Christ as He reigns over the earth. And God has set aside an entire dispensation, lasting approximately 2,000 years, in order to acquire these rulers. God is presently dealing with household servants in relation to the kingdom that the Son has gone away to receive, with a view to their one day filling positions of power and authority with Christ in the kingdom.
From a Scriptural standpoint, this should be the central purpose behind all activity in the Lord’s house today. But the working of the leaven has changed matters completely in this respect.
(Note that the central purpose for the present dispensation, seen from God’s standpoint in the antitype of that which is foreshadowed through events in Genesis chapter twenty-four, would be the Spirit’s search for and procurement of a bride for God’s Son. And this search for and procurement of a bride for God’s Son is part and parcel with a search for and procurement of individuals to fill the numerous positions of power and authority with Christ in His kingdom, for Christ’s bride will be made up of individuals who will fill these positions, as the bride reigns as co-regent alongside the Son.
For additional information on Genesis chapter twenty-four, refer to the author’s book,Search for the Bride.)
The Lord’s household servants have been promised remuneration commensurate with their faithfulness, and this remuneration has to do with their being elevated from positions of servitude in the house to positions as co-rulers in the kingdom. After Christ has returned, having received the kingdom, He will call His servants forth to reckon with them. A servant having been judged and shown faithful to previously delegated responsibility will hear his Lord say,
Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (Matthew 25:21; cf. Matthew 25:19-23; Luke 19:15-19).
(Note one of the laws of the harvest seen in the preceding — always reaping more than was sown — which can be seen in the following concerning the unfaithful servant as well.)
Servants in the house though have also been warned that unfaithfulness in the discharge of their assigned household duties will result in loss. Not only will they be denied positions in their Master’s kingdom, but they will also suffer rebuke and chastisement. Such a servant, having been judged and shown unfaithful to previously delegated responsibility, will hear his Lord say,
You wicked and lazy servant . . . . (Matthew 25:26a; cf. Matthew 25:24-30; Luke 19:20-26).
Within the scope of carrying out one’s responsibilities as a servant in the house, a spiritual warfare rages (Ephesians 6:10ff). Satan and his angels have allied themselves together against the Lord and His household servants. Though the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47), He is physically absent today; and with the Lord absence in this respect, the attack centers on the Lord’s servants, those of His household.
The present spiritual battle is one involving kingly power from the heavens over the earth. Satan and his angels presently rule in the kingdom, and Christ, along with His co-heirs, will one day take the kingdom.
This warfare is very real. Christ is the One who is destined to one day replace Satan in the kingdom; and Christians are the ones destined to, at the same time, replace angels presently ruling with Satan. During the coming age, Christ will wear the crown presently worn by Satan, and Christians will wear crowns presently worn by other angels in Satan’s kingdom (cf. 2 Samuel 1:10; Hebrews 2:5;Revelation 4:10; 19:12).
Satan knows these things. He also knows that the primary mission of the Holy Spirit in the world today is to call out a bride from among the household servants to reign as consort queen with the Son after He receives the kingdom (cf. Genesis 24:3, 4). And, knowing all of this, he is presently doing everything within his power to thwart God’s plans and purposes by bringing about disruption within the house among household servants.
Christians engaged in the present warfare have been called upon to:
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called . . . . (1 Timothy 6:12a)
Both textually and contextually, this verse could be better translated,
Strive in the good contest of the faith; lay hold on life for the age, whereunto you are also called . . . .
The word “strive” in the latter rendering is a translation of the Greek word agonizomai, from which we derive our English word, “agonize”; and the word “contest” is from the Greek word agon, the noun form of the verb agonizomai.
(Also, the change from “eternal life” to “life for the age” in the latter translation results from a contextual translation of the Greek word aionios, the word translated “eternal” in the verse.
The Greek language does not contain a word for “eternal.” The word aionios has to do with a long period of time, with the length of that time determined from the contextual usage of the word. The long period of time, to which aionios refers, can be understood as “eternal” if the context permits. However, the context of 1 Timothy 6:12 has to do withan age, the coming Messianic Era [aionios is often used referring to “an age”]. Thus, the preferred translation would be, “life for the age.”)
The same thought pertaining to “strive,” as seen in 1 Timothy 6:12, is also set forth in Jude 3. Because of apostasy among servants in the Lord’s house, Christians are exhorted to:
. . . contend earnestly for the faith . . . .
The words “contend earnestly” are a translation of the Greek word epagonizomai, an intensified form of the word agonizomai. The passage could be better translated,
. . . earnestly strive for the faith . . . .
And understanding of this passage in the light of 1 Timothy 6:12, this is a striving, not to defend “the faith” as some expositors suggest, but a striving with respect to the faith. Such a striving has to do with remaining faithful to one’s calling within the house during a day of apostasy (see the author’s book, Jude, chapter 2).
The words, “the faith,” are an expression used in the New Testament referring to biblical teachings surrounding the Word of the Kingdom, the saving of the soul, not salvation by grace. This is the message that the Lord will not find being proclaimed in Christendom when He returns, as revealed inLuke 18:8. Rather, He will find Christendom in a state of apostasy, which has to do with Christians occupying positions diametrically opposed to the exhortation, “Strive in the good contest of the faith. . . .”
(The English word “apostasy” is simply a transliterated form of the compound Greek word,apostasia, which means “to stand away from” [apo meaning “from,” and stasis meaning “to stand”]. True apostasy is a standing away from something previously held — a previously held truth, etc.
Note that apostasy in Scripture has to do with the saved, not with the unsaved. Only the saved can stand away from previously held truth, i.e., apostatize [cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14].)
According to Luke 18:8, along with related Scripture, when Christ returns, He will find Christians,standing away from “the faith” (or, estranged from “the faith” after another fashion), not earnestly striving with respect to “the faith.”
(Standing away from “the faith,” in the true sense of apostasy, would really not be possible for the vast majority of Christians today. Most Christians today know little to nothing about “the faith,” and they could not stand away from something with which they possessed no previous association. Thus, for most Christians today, the matter would have to be as stated in the parenthetical section of the preceding paragraph — an estrangement from “the faith” after another fashion.)
2) The Result
The result of Satan’s disruptive work in the Lord’s house during the present dispensation is evident on every hand. Striving with respect to the faith in relation to a kingdom is something that Christians don’t seem to know anything about; and the whole of Christendom is in such a state — described inRevelation 3:15-17 — that very few Christians even manifest the slightest interest when the subject is raised.
Christians, by large, see only one issue today — the issue dealing with eternal verities in relation to salvation or damnation. All Scripture is somehow pressed into this mold, and, resultantly, verses that have nothing whatsoever to do with eternal salvation or damnation are made to teach something other than what they deal with. They are made to teach issues concerning one’s eternal destiny.
Take, for example, the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23), the parables of the talents and pounds (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27), the Lord’s teaching about the vine and its branches inJohn 15:1-8, the warning passages in Hebrews (2:1-5, et al), that being taught about faith and works in James 2:14-26, being born of God in 1 John (chapters 2-5), or the overcomer’s promises inRevelation 2, 3.
These sections of Scripture — along with numerous other similar sections — are not dealing with one’s eternal destiny at all. Rather, they are dealing with issues pertaining to those who are already saved; and these issues have to do with the coming kingdom. It is sections of Scripture such as these that are being taken out of the realm of teaching in which they belong by certain Christians today and brought over into a realm of teaching in which they do not belong.
Once this has been done — once passages pertaining to Christian living, with a view to the coming kingdom, have been removed from their contexts and made to apply to salvation by grace — the things that these passages deal with (Lordship, fruit-bearing, etc.) then appear to come into the salvation picture. And the end result is twofold:
a) The clear, simple message of salvation by grace through faith becomes corrupted.
b) The door is then closed to the truth of that which these misapplied passages actually do teach.
In this respect, more is involved than just corrupting one message; in the process, another message is done away with.
Thus, the “why” of a corrupted salvation message within the ranks of what is looked upon as fundamental Christianity today, and its wide acceptance, is no mystery. Scripture is being misinterpreted and misapplied. Individuals not understanding the message having to do with the salvation of the soul, the Word of the Kingdom, etc., are taking portions of Scripture dealing with these issues and bringing them over into the realm dealing with the salvation of the spirit, eternal life.
And the reason this is happening can be traced back to the failure of the shepherds to properly care for the sheep. Such a failure was not only caused by the leaven but it has allowed the leaven to do its deteriorating work, unchecked, resulting in the present chaos in the Lord’s house.
“A corrupted message” concerning salvation by grace through faith on the one hand and “the absence of a message” concerning the Word of the Kingdom on the other hand mark that which can be seen in certain quarters under the guise of fundamental Christianity today. This is how complete the leaven has done its deteriorating and damaging work.
(Carrying matters back even farther though, the underlying problem behind the whole of the matter, resulting in current conditions in Christendom among those called to be pastor-teachers, is given in chapter 1 of this book. It is man’s failure to begin where God began [with Moses and the Prophets] and view Scripture after the manner in which God progressively revealed Himself, His plans, and His purposes [beginning with Old Testament history, which is highly typical in nature].
And man’s failure to do this has been occurring for decades extending into centuries of time, resulting in the current state of Christendom.)
The Only Answer to the Problem
The only possible means to effect correction where existing problems wrought by the working of the leaven manifest themselves is given in the message to the church in Laodicea; and the means, revealed through this message, would be the same no matter what doctrinal errors or heresies surfaced in the Church.
This is as it should be, for the church in Laodicea depicts Christendom as a whole after the leaven has done its damaging work near the end of the dispensation, without regard to any particular group of individuals, erroneous doctrines, or heresies. Thus, those mishandling Scripture to the point of teaching a corrupted gospel — and, in the process, closing the door to the Word of the Kingdom — would have to be included, regardless of their purported association with fundamental Christianity.
After all, the Scribes and Pharisees (the fundamental legalists in Israel 2,000 years ago) sat “in Moses’ seat”; but they suffered a far greater condemnatory rebuke at the hands of Christ than any other religious group in Israel, even the Sadducees (the more liberal group of that day).
And the reason for this lay in the position that the scribes and Pharisees held and the attitude that they took toward both Christ and the message being proclaimed. The scribes and Pharisees formed the largest of the religious sects in Israel; and, because of their numbers, they exerted control over the religious life of the people. The scribes and Pharisees (along with the Sadducees at times) followed Christ about the country, seeking, at every turn, to both cast reproach upon the Messenger and counter the message being proclaimed. And by doing this, along with exerting control over the religious life of the people, they “shut up the kingdom of the heavens against men [‘before men,’ ‘in front of men’].” They had no interest in entering this kingdom themselves, and they did everything within their power to see that others didn’t enter the kingdom either (Matthew 23:1ff).
The Lord described the church in Laodicea as being “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). The thought behind this description, in the light of the Greek text and the next verse (v. 18), is that those in this church, in a spiritual respect, were miserable individuals who were to be pitied because of their poor, blind, and naked condition. They had no understanding at all of that which Scripture taught on the matter at hand, which centered on the Word of the Kingdom.
Then in verse eighteen, the Lord took the three characteristics (“poor,” “blind,” and “naked”) marking those whom He had described as miserable, pitiful individuals and issued an exhortation:
Concerning their being poor, the Lord stated, “I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich.”
Concerning their being naked, the Lord stated, “. . . and white garments, that you may be clothed,that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.”
Concerning their being blind, the Lord stated, “. . . and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”
The Lord then went on to state, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” (v. 19)
The word “rebuke” from the Greek text contextually has to do with exposing, showing one his fault; and the word “chasten” is the translation of the same Greek word used in Hebrews 12:5-11(translated “chastening,” “chastens,” and “chastisement”), referring to child-training, child-instruction. The teaching from this verse reveals that the Lord, in a situation of this nature, exposes that which is wrong and provides training in that which is right (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17); and, in view of the fact that He would act after this fashion among the Christians in Laodicea, He exhorted those in this church to “repent” (i.e., in the light of the context, they were exhorted to realize their condition, change their minds, and submit to the truth that the Lord would provide).
Then the Lord pictured Himself as standing at the door of the church in Laodicea, knocking. If anyone in the church would hear His voice and open the door (hear and heed that which He had said in vv. 18, 19), He would come in and fellowship with that person (v. 20), for a Christian opening the door after this fashion would allow child-training, child-instruction, which would progressively deliver him from the described position of poor, blind, and naked.
(Note that Revelation 3:20 has nothing whatsoever to do with the message of salvation by grace through faith, as often taught. This verse has to do, not with Christ coming into the heart of an unsaved person, but with Christ coming inside the church in Laodicea to a saved individual.
This verse has to do with a Christian in the condition described in verse seventeen, who heeds the Lord’s exhortation in verses eighteen and nineteen, allowing fellowship to exist between himself and his Lord; and the entire matter is with a view to overcoming and one day being allowed to ascend the throne with Christ in His kingdom [v. 21].
Using Revelation 3:20 as a salvation text is a good example of why there is mass confusion concerning salvation by grace through faith on the one hand and mass ignorance concerning the Word of the Kingdom on the other hand in Christendom today. Such a use of this verse not only results in an erroneous view of salvation by grace through faith but it also closes the door to that which is actually taught in this passage, which concerns the Word of the Kingdom.)
The critical issue is thus one’s reception of correct instruction from the Word of God. And such instruction in Revelation 3:19, contextually, would have to center on a forward look to things of the kingdom, not a backward look to things surrounding salvation by grace through faith. The issue at hand is not eternal life but overcoming with a view to ascending the throne with Christ (v. 21).
In this respect, the heart of the matter actually centers around one coming into an understanding of that which Scripture teaches about the purpose for our salvation, the coming kingdom, etc. And it is apparent that those in Laodicea had no concept of these things.
Once a Christian can look ahead and clearly understand that which Scripture teaches about the coming kingdom, he is in a much better position to also look back and clearly understand that which Scripture teaches about salvation by grace through faith. Nothing will clarify issues surrounding salvation by grace through faith more than having a clear understanding of that which Scripture teaches concerning the coming kingdom, for only through such an understanding can works, discipleship, fruit-bearing, etc. be seen in their correct perspective, occupying no place at all in the simple salvation message having to do with unsaved man passing “from death to life.”
Salvation without Money, without Price
Eternal life is the free “gift of God,” obtained completely apart from works. Nothing that man does — not one single act, either before or after he becomes a recipient of this life — can have anything at all to do with the fact that this life becomes the present possession of an individual solely by grace (that which God is able to do entirely apart from human intervention or merit) through faith (through believing on God’s Son [Ephesians 2:8, 9]).
Christ’s finished work at Calvary provides a salvation that fallen man can avail himself of only by receiving that which has already been accomplished on his behalf — by believing.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us . . . . (Titus 3:5a)
Unredeemed man is totally incapable of effecting any part of his salvation. He is spiritually dead. He is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). And being spiritually dead, unredeemed man, before he can act in the spiritual realm, MUST come into possession of spiritual life, which can come only from God (Genesis 2:7).
Everything surrounding his passing from death to life MUST be accomplished on his behalf.
Thus, unredeemed man can only be completely passive in the matter. The total inability of fallen, ruined man to act in the realm of redemption has forever been foreshadowed in Scripture at the very beginning by a prior ruin — the ruin of the material creation in Genesis 1:2a.
The material creation, as man, was brought into a ruined state by an act of Satan; and the material creation in this ruined state, as man, could undergo no change in and of itself. This is the reason why the first thing we read in Genesis 1:2b, 3 concerning the restoration of the material creation is:
. . . And the Spirit of God was hovering (KJV: moved) over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
This act of restoration was accomplished, in its entirety, through divine intervention. And so it is with unredeemed man. The Spirit of God performs a work in the individual, based upon Christ’s past and finished work. The Spirit of God moves, God speaks, and light comes into existence.
Man passes “from death to life.” A bringing forth from above occurs, and it is all based on the finished work of God’s Son at Calvary.
Salvation for fallen man is both free and apart from works, but the procurement of this salvation by God’s Son was by no means free and apart from works. God’s Son provided this salvation by means of a vicarious sacrifice — the sacrifice of Himself; and fallen man can do no more than simply receive that which God’s Son has provided.
Fallen man is no more in a position to bring himself out of his ruined state than was the ruined material creation. Divine intervention was/is required in both instances.
The former restoration sets the pattern for the latter restoration. It is God’s unchangeable pattern, forever established in the opening verses of Genesis. Man, a subsequent ruined creation of God, MUST be restored in exact accordance with the established pattern.
Note the words “not of yourselves” and “that we have done” in Ephesians 2:8 and Titus 3:5.
Both refer to the necessity of the complete absence of works on man’s part in relation to eternal salvation. The work has already been accomplished; the price has already been paid. When Christ cried out on the Cross, “It is finished” (John l9:30), He announced the completion of a redemptive work that He alone could, and did, perform.
The words, “It is finished,” in John l9:30 are the translation of one word in the Greek text —Tetelestai. This word is in the perfect tense and could be better translated, “It has been finished.” That is, at this point, everything relating to the work of redemption had been accomplished. Nothing more remained to be done. Accordingly, immediately after Christ cried out, Tetelestai, “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
The perfect tense in the Greek text calls attention to a work completed in past time, with the resultsof this work extending into present time and existing in a finished state. This is the same verb tense used in Ephesians 2:8 relative to the present state of redeemed man — “For by grace you have been saved . . . .” The person was saved during past time, with the results of God’s work surrounding his salvation extending into and existing during present time in a finished state.
Redeemed man is in possession of a salvation (present) wherein everything has already been accomplished (past) on his behalf. The Holy Spirit has performed a work based on Christ’s past, finished work. The Spirit has breathed life into the one previously having no life, and the Spirit could perform this work only because of Christ’s past, finished work at Calvary.
Thus, redeemed man is presently in possession of a salvation wherein everything was accomplished in past time through divine intervention, with everything extending into and existing during present time in a finished state. And this work, completed in past time through divine intervention — whether Christ’s finished work at Calvary, or the Spirit breathing life into the one having no life — is not only something that unsaved man cannot have a part in but it is also something that saved man cannot change, add to, or take from.
Man is powerless to act in this complete realm. The matter is as Jonah stated immediately prior to his deliverance from the sea: “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9b).
Man can do no more than simply receive that which has already been done. That’s why Scripture states,
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ [put your trust, reliance, in the One who has accomplished everything on your behalf], and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31)
The Bible is a book of redemption; and basic, unchangeable teachings surrounding redemption are set forth in Scripture, at the very beginning, revealing a purpose in view.
In the first chapter of Genesis, God sets forth the unchangeable manner in which He, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, restores a ruined creation. There is a restorative work that follows a specific pattern, and the matter is accomplished entirely through divine intervention.
And within this unchangeable pattern set forth at the very beginning, God reveals how any subsequent ruined creation would, of necessity, have to be restored. It would have to be restored after a certain order, entirely through divine intervention, over a six-day (a six-thousand-year) period.
Thus, to establish correct thinking relative to the fundamentals of salvation, one must begin in Genesis. If all those holding erroneous views had begun in Genesis chapter one and understood and adhered to that which God set forth at the very beginning concerning how a ruined creation is to be restored, not a single erroneous view concerning salvation would exist today. Such couldn’t exist.
And, going to more specific thoughts concerning salvation, the preceding would equally apply to not only the salvation of the spirit but also to the salvation of the soul as well. Within the structure of this foundational framework, the salvation of the spirit (the salvation that we presently possess) is realized at the very beginning of the six days; but the salvation of the soul (a salvation occurring at the end of one’s faith, or as the goal of one’s faith [1 Peter 1:5, 9]) is an on-going process and is to be realized only at the end of the six days, on the seventh day.
In this respect, the unchangeable basics pertaining to redemption in relation to the whole of that which, in reality, is the man himself (both spirit and soul) have been set forth at the very beginning of Scripture, in Genesis 1:1-2:3. And if a person would understand salvation within its correct perspective, avoiding all error, he must begin here. Here — and only here — can a person see the unchangeable foundation, setting forth the unchangeable basics, laid down at the very beginning.
Salvation of the Spirit
Hebrews 4:12 reveals a penetration of the Word into the innermost depths of man’s being and, though this means, able to effect a division between soul and spirit. And this is a teaching drawn from the very opening verses of Genesis (as seen earlier in this same section in Hebrews relative to the “rest” set before “the people of God” [vv. 4, 9]). The Spirit of God moves in Genesis 1:2b, and God speaks in Genesis 1:3. In relation to man’s salvation, it is at this point (in what would be referred to as the foundational type) that a division is made between man’s soul and his spirit (in what would be referred to as the antitype).
In the type, the Spirit of God moved, God spoke, and light came into existence. Genesis 1:2b, 3records the initial act of the Triune Godhead in bringing about the restoration of the ruined material creation, an act in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each participated — the Spirit moved, God spoke, and then note that nothing can come into existence apart from the Son (John 1:3).
In the antitype, within the framework of man’s salvation experience, the matter is identical. There must be an act of the Triune Godhead, for this is how God worked to restore a ruined creation in the Genesis account, establishing an unchangeable pattern for a later work. Thus, as in the type, so in the antitype — the Spirit of God moves, God speaks, and light comes into existence.
Everything is based on the Son’s finished work at Calvary. The Spirit moving and God speaking are both based on that which occurred almost 2,000 years ago. When the Son cried out from the Cross, “It is finished [lit., ‘It has been finished’]” (John 19:30; cf. Luke 23:46), He meant exactly that; and when the Word of God reveals that we have a salvation of divine origin, based entirely on the Son’s finished work, this Word also means exactly what it states.
When man sinned in the garden, he died spiritually; and when unregenerate man, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), is made alive today, he is made alive spiritually. The movement of the Spirit (Genesis 1:2b) and God speaking (Genesis 1:3) in order to restore the ruined creation are simultaneous events. It is the Spirit using the God-breathed Word to effectually perform a supernatural work in unredeemed man. It is at this point — through the in-breathing of God — that life is imparted to that which previously had no life. God breathes into dead man (the Spirit using the God-breathed Word, based on the finished work of the Son), and man is “made . . . live” [KJV:quickened] (Ephesians 2:1, 5).
At this point, light shines “out of darkness” (2 Corinthians 4:6), a division is made between the light and the darkness (Genesis 1:4), and the darkness has no apprehension or comprehension of that which is light (John 1:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14).
It is at this point in man’s salvation that the spirit is separated from the soul. The “spirit” in unsaved man is dead. It is a part of the totally depraved man, with his “body of…death,” in which there dwells “no good thing” (Romans 7:18, 24). With the movement of the Spirit, using the God-breathed Word, man’s spirit is made alive and, at the same time, separated from his soul.
The “soul” remains within the sphere of darkness, which is why “the natural [Greek: psuchikos,‘soulical’] man” cannot understand “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). That which remains in the sphere of darkness can have no apprehension or comprehension of that which has shined out of darkness. There is a God-established division between the two that cannot be crossed over (cf. Luke 16:26).
(Note that the preceding forms a foundational part of the reason why Christ becoming one’s Lord [cf. Luke 6:46] cannot be an integral part of salvation by grace.)
Salvation of the Soul
The preceding process is the manner that God uses to deliver the spirit from its fallen state, resulting from Adam’s sin. And because the spirit has been delivered, there can once again be communion with God. Man can now comprehend spiritual things, and there can now be a progressive, continued work by the Spirit of God within man so that he can ultimately be delivered to the place that God has decreed that he occupy at the end of six days, at the end of six thousand years.
Within the framework of the type in Genesis chapter one, this is the very first thing that is foreshadowed. This had to be set forth first, for man has to first be made alive — he has to first pass “from death to life” — before anything else in the restorative process can occur.
Thus, this is foreshadowed at the very beginning of the six days that God, in accordance with the established pattern, would use to bring about man’s complete restoration — spirit, soul, and body (cf.1 Thessalonians 5:23).
To briefly illustrate how God’s complete restoration of man is patterned after God’s complete restoration of the material creation in Genesis chapter one, note three things:
1) Where the complete restorative process began (on day one, as previously mentioned).
2) That which occurred on each succeeding day (two through six).
3) Where the whole of the restorative process was leading (the seventh day, the Sabbath, a day of rest following six days of work).
Within the type-antitype framework — pertaining to man’s salvation in the antitype — that which occurred in the type on day one pertains to the salvation of man’s spirit, and that which occurred in the type on days two through six pertains to the salvation of man’s soul, with the whole of that revealed leading to the seventh day.
The salvation of the spirit is an instantaneous event where one passes “from death to life,” but not so with the salvation of the soul. It is a progressive event. It is an event that begins at the point one is made alive spiritually, and it will not be completed and realized until the end of that which is foreshadowed by the six days of restorative work — 6,000 years of restorative work.
(The issues of the judgment seat of Christ at the end of the present dispensation — which will occur at the end of the six days, at the end of the 6,000 years — will have to do with issues surrounding the salvation [or loss] of the soul/life. It will be at the judgment seat — not before — that man will realize [or fail to realize] the salvation of his soul/life.
Note that issues of the judgment seat can have nothing whatsoever to do with man’s presently possessed eternal salvation, which has to do with his spirit. It is only on the basis of man’s presently possessed eternal salvation that he can be dealt with in relation to fruit bearing [having to do with his soul/life], both during present time and at the judgment seat. And the findings and determinations of the judgment seat, in this respect, will have to do with the salvation or loss of his soul/life, which, in turn, will determine his place and position in the coming kingdom of Christ.)
Since the salvation of the spirit cannot occur apart from an exact duplication in the antitype of that which occurred in the type during day one of the restoration in Genesis, it should be evident that the salvation of the soul and its relationship to that which occurred on days two through six must be looked upon the same way. The latter must follow the pattern to the same degree as the former. There can be no difference in this respect.
And since this is the case, note what occurred on days two through six in the restoration of the ruined material creation in Genesis. Then, to see the overall picture of that which must be done to bring about the salvation of redeemed man’s soul, these same events can be viewed in relation to God’s present continuing restoration of man, a subsequent ruined creation.
Events on days two and three (as events on the first day) have to do with divisions. On the second day God established a division between the waters (vv. 6-8), and on the third day He established a division between the dry land (with its vegetation) and the waters (vv. 9-13).
Then events on days four through six belong together as another unit, depicting things beyond the divisions previously established. On the fourth day God placed lights in the heavens to give light upon the earth (vv. 14-19), on the fifth day He created birds that could soar above the earth and marine life that could move throughout the depths of the sea (vv. 20-23), and on the sixth day He created the land animals, which included great creatures capable of roaming the earth (vv. 24, 25).
And, as previously noted, the whole of God’s restorative work relative to the material creation inGenesis foreshadows the whole of God’s restorative work relative to man today. After man has “passed from death to life,” wherein the spirit is separated from the soul — wrought entirely through divine intervention — redeemed man finds himself in a position and condition where a continued divine work not only can occur but must occur if he is to realize the salvation of his soul. And only through this continued divine work can the whole of God’s restorative work, as it pertains to man, be realized.
(Man, as the material creation, must be completely passive in relation to the salvation of the spirit [he is dead, rendering him incapable of acting]; and man, as the material creation [“And the earth brought forth . . . .”] must be active in relation to the salvation of the soul [he now has spiritual life, allowing him to act in the spiritual realm]. But, as in the restoration of the material creation, the entire salvation process [spirit and soul, and ultimately the body] is a divine work. “Salvation is of the Lord” [Jonah 2:9].
For more information on the preceding, refer to the author’s book, The Time of the End, Appendix 3, “Faith and Works.”)
Events occurring during the first three days in Genesis chapter one would point to elementary things or the basics in one’s spiritual life and growth. Events occurring during day one would point to a division between the soul and the spirit, having to do with the impartation of life. Then events occurring during days two and three would point to divisions and distinctions as one begins to progressively grow within the framework of the new life brought into existence on the first day. One would learn to distinguish between the soulical and spiritual, spiritual and carnal (fleshly), Jew, Gentile, and Christian, the dispensations, etc.
Only when one learns the divisions and distinctions depicted by that which was brought to pass on days two and three is he in a position to move on into the things depicted by that which was brought to pass on days four through six. On these three days, light was restored to the sun and moon (day four, vv. 14-19); sea life and the birds of the air were created (day five, vv. 20-23); and then God created all the living creatures that roam the earth, followed by His creation of man (day six, vv. 24-27).
That which is depicted by the work of the Triune Godhead during these three days points to things beyond elementary truths in the antitype. After one has passed “from death to life” and has been instructed in the elementary truths (days one through three — after he has grown to a degree in his Christian life — he can then begin to view with understanding deeper spiritual truths of the Word. He can then begin to view with understanding those things in the Word depicted by events on days four through six of Genesis chapter one.
An individual in this position can begin to sink deep shafts down into the Word and mine its treasures. He can look into the Word and understand that which is depicted by the lights in the heavens. He can, in the true sense of the Word, “mount up with wings as eagles . . . run, and not be weary . . . walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31), as he scales the heights; or he can scale the depths of the Word, as the sea creatures plunge to the depths of the sea; or he can roam through the Word, as the land creatures roam the earth.
Christian maturity and spiritual victory — bringing to pass the salvation of the soul — go hand-in-hand. And the entire process of God’s restoration work throughout the six days is with a view to that which lies beyond, on the seventh day. It is with a view to the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God.
 Salvation by Grace through Faith by Arlen L. Chitwood; The Lamp Broadcast, Inc.