In 1929 we wrote a booklet entitled "A Threefold Salvation" based upon the instruction we had received during our spiritual infancy. Like most of that early teaching, it was defective because inadequate. As we continued our study of God’s Word further light has been granted us on this subject—yet alas how ignorant we still are—and this has enabled us to see that, in the past, we had started at the wrong point, for instead of beginning at the beginning, we commenced almost in the middle. instead of salvation from ...
In 1929 we wrote a booklet entitled "A Threefold Salvation" based upon the instruction we had received during our spiritual infancy. Like most of that early teaching, it was defective because inadequate. As we continued our study of God’s Word further light has been granted us on this subject—yet alas how ignorant we still are—and this has enabled us to see that, in the past, we had started at the wrong point, for instead of beginning at the beginning, we commenced almost in the middle. instead of salvation from sin being threefold, as we once supposed, we now perceive it to be fourfold. How good is the Lord in vouchsafing us additional light, yet it is now our duty to walk therein, and, as Providence affords us opportunity, to give it out. May the Holy Spirit so graciously guide us that God may be glorified and His people edified.
The subject of God’s "so-great-salvation" (Heb. 2:3), as it is revealed to us in the Scriptures and made known in Christian experience, is worthy of a life’s study. Any one who supposes that there is now no longer any need for him to prayerfully search for a fuller understanding of the same needs to ponder "If any man think he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (1 Cor. 8:2). The fact is that the moment any of us really takes it for granted that he already knows all that there is to be known on any subject treated of in Holy Writ, he at once cuts himself off from any further light thereon. That which is most needed by all of us in order to a better understanding of Divine things is not a brilliant intellect, but a truly humble heart and a teachable spirit, and for that we would daily and fervently pray, for we possess it not by nature.
The subject of Divine salvation has, sad to say, provoked age-long controversy and bitter contentions even among Christians. There is comparatively little agreement even upon this elementary vet vital truth. Some have insisted that salvation is by Divine grace, others have argued that it is by human endeavor. A number have sought to defend the middle position, and while allowing that the salvation of a lost sinner must be by Divine grace, were not willing to concede that it is by Divine grace alone, alleging that God’s grace must be plussed by something from the creature, and very varied have been the opinions of what that ‘something must be—baptism, church-membership, the performing of good works, holding out faithful to the end, etc. On the other hand, there are those who not only grant that salvation is by grace alone, but who deny that God uses any means whatever in the accomplishment of His eternal purpose to save His elect—overlooking the fact that the sacrifice of Christ is the grand "means’!
It is true that the Church of God was blessed with super-creation blessings, being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and predestinated unto the adoption of children, and nothing could or can alter that grand fact. It is equally true that if sin had never entered the world, none had been in need of salvation from it. But sin has entered, and the Church fell in Adam and came under the curse and condemnation of God’s Law. Consequently, the elect, equally with the reprobate, shared in the capital offence of their federal head, and partake of its fearful entail: "In Adam all die" (1 Cor. 15:22): "By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation" (Rom. 5:18). The result of this is, that all are "alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts" (Eph. 4:18), so that the members of the mystical Body of Christ are "by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph. 2:3), and hence they are alike in dire need of God’s salvation.
Even when there is fundamental soundness in their views upon Divine salvation many have such inadequate and one-sided conceptions that other aspects of this truth, equally important and essential, are often overlooked and tacitly denied. How many, for example, would be capable of giving a simple exposition of the following texts: "Who hat/i saved us" (2 Tim. 1:9), "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil. 2:12), "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed’ (Rom. 13:11). Now those verses do not refer to three different salvations, but to three separate aspects of one, and unless we learn to distinguish sharply among them, there can be naught but confusion and cloudiness in our thinking. Those passages present three distinct phases and stages of salvation: salvation as an accomplished fact, as a present process, and as a future prospect.