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19 May, 2013

The Four Fold Salvation — Part 6

The last paragraph of this post is so loaded that I do not even want to start talking about it. Suffice to say that it is a period that we walk with God which resembles to the dark night of the soul.  When the true self is unveiled to us, it is like Pink said: “the veil of delusion is removed.”  This is not something reserved for the few, but rather to all of us claiming to be Christian. However hard this road of discovery of the true self is, we have to walk it. Though this road we find that Christianity is far more than what we signed for, and we realize that God means business.  Anyone of you who has taken this road knows exactly what I mean and still have those invisible scars in the soul as proof that we have been there with Him. 

A Fourfold Salvation
Arthur Pink, 1938 

Let us point out first, that the presence of that within us which still lusts after and takes delight in some evil things—is not incompatible with our having been saved from the love of sin, paradoxical as that may sound. It is part of the mystery of the Gospel that those who are saved are yet sinners in themselves. The point we are here dealing with is similar to and parallel with faith. The Divine principle of faith in the heart, does not cast out unbelief. Faith and doubts exist side by side within a quickened soul, which is evident from those words, "Lord, I believe—help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). In like manner the Christian may exclaim and pray, "Lord, I long after holiness—help my lustings after sin." And why is this? Because of the existence of two separate natures, the one at complete variance with the other within the Christian.

How, then, is the presence of faith to be ascertained? Not by the ceasing of unbelief—but by discovering its own fruits and works. Fruit may grow amid thorns—as flowers among weeds—yet it is fruit, nevertheless. Faith exists amid many doubts and fears.

Notwithstanding opposing forces from within as well as from without us, faith still reaches out after God. Notwithstanding innumerable discouragements and defeats, faith continues to fight. Notwithstanding many refusals from God, it yet clings to Him, and says, "Unless You bless me—I will not let You go." Faith may be fearfully weak and fitful, often eclipsed by the clouds of unbelief, nevertheless the Devil himself cannot persuade its possessor to repudiate God's Word, despise His Son, or abandon all hope. The presence of faith, then, may be ascertained in that it causes its possessor to come before God as an empty-handed beggar, beseeching Him for mercy and blessing.

Now just as the presence of faith may be known amid all the workings of unbelief, so our salvation from the love of sin may be ascertained notwithstanding all the lustings of the flesh after that which is evil. But in what way? How is this initial aspect of salvation to be identified? We have already anticipated this question in an earlier paragraph, wherein we stated that God saved us from delighting in sin—by imparting a nature which hates evil and loves holiness, which takes place at the new birth. 

Consequently, the real question to be settled is how may the Christian positively determine whether that new and holy nature has been imparted to him? The answer is by observing its activities, particularly the opposition it makes (under the energizing of the Holy Spirit) unto indwelling sin. Not only does the flesh (the principle of sin) lust against the spirit—but the spirit (the principle of holiness) lusts and wars against the flesh.

First, our salvation from the pleasure or love of sin, may be recognized by sin's becoming a BURDEN to us. This is truly a spiritual experience. Many souls are loaded with worldly anxieties—who know nothing of what it means to be bowed down with a sense of guilt. But when God takes us in hand, the iniquities and transgressions of our past life are made to lie as an intolerable load upon the conscience. When we are given a sight of ourselves as we appear before the eyes of the thrice holy God—we will exclaim with the Psalmist, "For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me!" (40:12). So far from sin being pleasant, it is now felt as a cruel tormentor, a crushing weight, an unendurable load. The soul is "heavy laden" (Matt. 11:28) and bowed down. A sense of guilt oppresses, and the conscience cannot bear the weight upon it. Nor is this experience restricted to our first conviction—it continues with more or less acuteness throughout the Christian's life.

Second, our salvation from the pleasure of sin, may be recognized by sin's becoming BITTER to us. True, there are millions of the unregenerate who are filled with remorse over the harvest reaped from their sowing of wild oats. Yet that is not hatred of sin—but dislike of its consequences—ruined health, squandered opportunities, financial straitness, or social disgrace. 

No, what we have reference to, is that anguish of heart which ever marks the one whom the Spirit takes in hand. When the veil of delusion is removed, and we see sin in the light of God's countenance; when we are given a discovery of the depravity of our very nature—then we perceive that we are sunk in carnality and death. When sin is opened to us in all its secret workings—we are made to feel the vileness of our hypocrisy, self-righteousness, unbelief, impatience, and the utter filthiness of our hearts. And when the penitent soul views the sufferings of Christ, he can say with Job, "God makes my heart soft" (23:16).