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18 May, 2013

A Four Fold Salvation — Part 5

One of the reasons why some “Christians” are living the defeated life and have no idea what it means to have their identity anchored in Him is because they have not really received Salvation yet. We have millions of people out there who have been persuaded to say the sinner’s prayer without a true understanding of what being a Christian entails. While I do not have a problem about us asking people to ask Christ into their hearts but I have a problem with the way it’s done. It is purely mechanical, not enough information is given to make an informed decision, in some cases we have intimidation and more often than not, we push people to do it. The first time I received Christ it was handled in one of those ways I described above, and when I realized what he did to me, I was upset for a little while.

However, since I was invited to Church I kept going, every Sunday before I knew it, I was roaming all around the Church participating in all kinds of activities while serving, in the meantime, I was not a Christian yet. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being part of something, I liked the culture and it was like belonging to a nice and exclusive club. During that time, I became curious about Christianity. I know what it means to dread being baptized and you wish you did not have to do it. I know what it means to roam around the Church without being a Christian and I know the difference when Christ enters your heart on His terms and you are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

I thank God that over time I became curious and investigated. But, what about those who never get to meet with Him and instead they fall into a coma in the Church while waiting to go to heaven? Since, true grace from Him changes you in the depth of your being, why is it some professed Christians never changed? Why is it for some of us if it was not for the outward activities our Christianity would be the best kept secret? Why is it some never feel the need to go deeper? Why some are not craving for more of Him?  Why is it we have millions out there with no idea that there is a world of a difference between being saved in your sin and being saved from sin? Why do we have millions of people in the Church still clinging to some vague idea of salvation and some prayer they might have said years ago while having no idea of what intimacy with God means? Attending Church, being baptized and Church membership do not make anyone Christian.

While we are selling some kind of man-made Salvation, we have the audacity to tell people they have been sealed with the Spirit as if we could manipulate the Holy Spirit to be complicit in our deceitful ways. It isn't for nothing we have a whole bunch of famous singers living the Hollywood life, which is our modern version of Sodom and Gomorrah, yet still thinking they are children of God. This is the culture we live in and this is how we are selling Christianity. Sadly, most of the recipients believe what we are selling because it is an easy gig to them—cheap grace.

While you might not be dancing and showing every part of your body to make a buck, but, if you are still sitting in the pews unchanged by the Holy Spirit, on the inside after decades of calling yourself Christian, well, you either have a problem or God is a liar and the New Testament Salvation has no power to change a man. 

A Fourfold Salvation
Arthur Pink, 1938 

What, then, say the Scriptures? So far from God's Word denying that there is any delight to be found therein, it expressly speaks of "the pleasures of sin," yet it immediately warns us that those pleasures are but "for a season" (Heb. 11:25), for the aftermath is painful and not pleasant; yes, Studies in the Scriptures July, 1938 22 unless God intervenes in His sovereign grace, they entail eternal torment. So, too, the Word refers to those who are "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:4).

It is indeed striking to observe how often this discordant note is struck in Scripture. It mentions those who "love vanity" (Psalm 4:2), "him that loves violence" (Psalm 11:5) "you love evil more than good" (Psalm 52:3), "scorners delight in their scorning" (Proverbs 1:22), "those who delight in the abominations" (Isaiah 66:3), "their abominations were according as they loved" (Hosea 9:10), "who hate the good and love the evil" (Micah 3:2), "if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). To love sin is far worse than to commit it, for a man may be suddenly tripped up and commit it through frailty.

The fact is, my reader, that we are not only born into this world with an evil nature—but with hearts that are thoroughly in love with sin. Sin is a native element. We are wedded to our lusts, and of ourselves no man is able to alter the bent of our corrupt nature any more than the Ethiopian can change his skin or the leopard his spots. But what is impossible with man is possible to God, and when He takes us in hand this is where He begins—by saving us from the pleasure or love of sin. This is the great miracle of grace, for the Almighty stoops down and picks up a loathsome leper from the dunghill, and makes him a new creature in Christ, so that the things he once loved he now hates, and the things he once hated he now loves. God commences by saving us from ourselves. He does not save us from the penalty of sin—until He has delivered us from the love of it.

And how is this miracle of grace accomplished, or rather, exactly what does it consist of? Negatively, not by eradicating the evil nature, nor even by refining it. Positively, by communicating a new nature, a holy nature which loathes that which is evil and delights in all that is truly good. To be more specific.

First, God saves His people from the pleasure or love of sin—by putting His holy awe in their hearts, for "the fear of the Lord is to hate evil" (Proverbs 8:13), and again, "by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil" (Proverbs 16:6).

Second, God saves His people from the pleasure of sin—by communicating to them a new and vital principle, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5), and where the love of God rules the heart, the love of sin is dethroned.

Third, God saves His people from the love of sin—by the Holy Spirit's drawing their affections unto things above, thereby taking them off the things which formerly enthralled them.

If on the one hand the unbeliever hotly denies that he is in love with sin, many a believer is often hard put to it to persuade himself that he has been saved from the love thereof. With an understanding that has been in part enlightened by the Holy Spirit, he is the better able to discern things in their true colors. With a heart that has been made honest by grace, he refuses to call sweet bitter. With a conscience that has been sensitized by the new birth, he the more quickly feels the workings of sin and the hankering of his affections for that which is forbidden. Moreover, the flesh remains in him, unchanged, and as the raven constantly craves carrion, so this corrupt principle in which our mothers conceived us—lusts after and delights in that which is the opposite of holiness. These things are they which occasion and give rise to the disturbing questions that clamor for answers within the genuine believer.

The sincere Christian is often made to seriously doubt if he has been delivered from the love of sin. Such questions as these painfully agitate his mind—Why do I so readily yield to temptation? Why do some of the vanities and pleasures of the world still possess so much attraction for me? Why do I chafe so much against any restraints being placed upon my lusts? Why do I find the work of mortification so difficult and distasteful? Could such things as these be—if I were a new creature in Christ? Could such horrible experiences as these happen—if God had saved me from taking pleasure in sin?

Well do we know that we are here giving expression to the very doubts which exercise the minds of many of our readers, and those who are strangers thereto are to be pitied. But what shall we say in reply? How is this distressing problem to be resolved? How may one be assured that he has been saved from the love of sin?