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FRAGMENTARY OR FULL SALVATION?
How do the Scriptures describe salvation from sin? With all the evangelical preaching and efforts of evangelism being done today, why is there so much impotence in resisting sin and so little fruit-bearing and remaining fruit? Why do so many professing Christians seem so powerless to overcome sin? Is the problem: with the message conveyed or with many of the converts? with the people or the preaching? Could it be that a message offering an incomplete salvation from sin is the root of the problem? Are some preaching a fragmentary salvation? Do many believe in a fragmentary salvation?
As soon as such questions are asked, some will turn off and disregard such a concept. But is it not imperative to find out what is meant and if it has any validity? What do the Scriptures teach about salvation from sin? This is a very vital issue! The eternal destiny of the eternal souls of all people depends upon a proper understanding and a proper presentation of the wonderful salvation provided by The Lord Jesus Christ through His vicarious death, victorious resurrection, and His vital High Priestly ministry.
THE ESSENCE OF SALVATION
Firstly, it is necessary to consider the essence or real nature of salvation from sin. What is salvation from sin? It is best described as the act of The God that takes a lost guilty sinner who repents and believes on Christ (Acts 20:21) and brings him into a permanent relationship with Himself by means of regeneration (the new birth), redemption (payment of the purchase price to buy back the bondslave from sin), forgiveness of sins (judicially released from the penalty for one’s sins and clearance of guilt on one’s conscience), reconciliation (restoring bitter enemies to peace again), justification (declaring one righteous and clearing one from all guilt), sanctification (separation unto The God from sin to live a pure life), and glorification (the ultimate result: being changed into a glorious resurrected body to live with The God without sin forever in The One True God’s perfect Heaven).
THE ESSENTIALS OF SALVATION
This glorious act of The God has past, present, and future aspects to it Most emphasis is placed on the past aspect or the future aspects to the exclusion of the present aspect. The future aspect provides a glorious hope and bears influence upon the way we live (1 Jn. 3:3). The past aspect is positional in nature and the present aspect is practical in nature. The past aspect is from the plight and penalty of sin.
The Plight of Sin
The plight of sin has two aspects: danger and condition. Both words are used to identify the meaning of ‘plight.’ The danger aspect of sin is the ultimate suffering of the wrath of The God for eternity and that, torment in the Lake of Fire forever (Rev. 21:8; 20:15). Jesus said that whoever does not continually commit faith (trust in) Him is condemned already (Jn. 3:18,36). The danger is imminently precarious.
The condition of sin’s predominance in the life of unregenerated mankind is described as follows:
destitute or degenerate – lost (Isa. 53:6; Jer. 17:9; Lk. 19:10; 2 Cor. 4:4);
disobedient (Col. 3:6; Eph. 2:3; 5:6);
defiled (Rom. 7:8; Tit. 1:15; Rev. 21:27);
incurably diseased (Jas. 1:15; Jer.17:9);
deceived – blinded, in darkness (2 Cor. 4:4-6; Rom. 7:11; Tit. 3:3);
dead – slain (Rom. 7:11; 2 Cor. 4:14; Eph. 2:2,3);
enslaved (Jn. 8:34,44; Rom. 6:16-21);
guilty (Jas. 2:10; Rom. 3:19); and
enemies to The God ( Eph. 4:17,18; Col. 1:21).
Each of the above conditions are the direct result of sin’s predominance. The Lord Jesus Christ has provided a remedy for the plight of each condition as follows:
no longer destitute or lost, but found (Lk. 15:24,32);
no longer disobedient, but obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7) and
obedient to God’s Word (Rom. 6: 13,16,17);
no longer degenerate, but regenerated (Tit. 3:5);
no longer defiled, but cleansed from defilement (1 Jn. 1:7,9);
no longer incurably diseased, but healed of sin and disease (1 Pet. 2:24);
no longer deceived, blinded, and in darkness, but given spiritual sight and glorious light
(2 Cor. 4:4,6; 1 Jn. 2:8; 1 Pet. 2:9);
no longer dead, but quickened or made alive (Eph. 2:4,5; Col. 2:13);
no longer enslaved, but freed from slavery (Jn. 8:36; Gal. 5:1; Rom. 6:18,22);
no longer guilty, but justified or cleansed from guilt (1 Pet. 3:21; Rom. 5:1); and forgiven of sins
(Eph. 1:7; 4:32; Col. 2:13);
no longer enemies of The God, but reconciled to Him (Rom. 5:10; 1 Cor. 5:18) and now at peace
Disobedience will be considered below under Salvation from The Power, Practice, and Pleasure of Sin.
The Penalty of Sin
All sinning is an offence against The God and is an affront to His righteousness and dignity. God’s righteousness demands that He punish sin. His holiness will not permit Him to overlook sin (Hab. 1:13) nor to clear the guilty (Ex. 34:7) “by no means.” It is clear that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and that eternal death in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone forever (Rev. 20:10-15) with the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41,46). “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4,20). There is a severe penalty for sin although most people will minimize sin’s consequence. Nevertheless The God’s Word clearly states that He will punish sin. But The God’s love motivated Him to provide salvation from sin’s penalty through the sacrificial, vicarious death of The Lord Jesus Christ, His Son. The Lord Jesus Christ told Paul on that Dahmahskóhs Road at the time of Paul’s conversion,
“Now I am sending you to open their eyes and to convert |them| from dark unto light and out of the authority of Satan up to The God in order for them to receive forgiveness of sins and an allotted portion among the ones being sanctified by faith, |namely| the one on the basis of Mine. . . .and . . . Be repenting and be converting up to The God and continually practice works worthy of repentance!” (Acts 26:18,20 *).
There are two results to this salvation which Paul was commissioned by The Lord Jesus Christ Himself to proclaim: forgiveness of sins and sanctified by faith. The first of these relates to the penalty and guilt of sin, while the second relates to the practice of sin which will be considered later in this paper.
Forgiveness of Sins. The word translated ‘forgiveness’ is the noun form of the verb that is translated ‘forgive’ and in its passive form ‘forgiven,’ which is Ahféeaymee. This is also the same word translated ‘abandon’ which means ‘to give up with the intent of never again claiming a right to or interest in” (Webster). God can only forgive i.e. abandon our sins if we really mean business and abandon our sins ourselves. If we want The God to forgive our sins, we must repent of and abandon our sins; Lk. 24:47; Acts 26:18,20; Heb. 10:6; 1 Pet. 2:24). Forgiveness from the penalty of sin by simply believing on Christ is the aspect of salvation that is currently being emphasized and widely propagated. But forgiveness also includes salvation from the guilt of sin. The guilty conscience is cleansed from sin, without which cleansing no one would be fit to live in the perfect, sinless Heaven with The Holy God. Paul wrote to the Hebrews:
“ . . . by how much rather shall the blood of The Christ, Who through Eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to The God, cleanse the conscience of yours from dead works in order to sacredly serve The absolutely Living God? . . . For the law, having a shadow of the imminent beneficially good things, not the image itself of the matters, is never able to make the ones approaching perfect by means of those sacrifices which they offered in perpetuity era by era. Or else they themselves would cease to be offered, would they not? because of the |thought| ‘the ones sacredly serving, having been cleansed once for ever, |are| not to have any conscience of sins any more” (Heb. 9:14; 10:1,2).
Thus it is seen that the past aspect of salvation deals with the plight of sin and the penalty of sin including forgiveness of the consequences of sin as well as the inner guilt of one’s conscience to clear the way for the future aspect to be justly accomplished to live forever in The God’s perfect Heaven in perfect peace. But there is another aspect to salvation from sin that is just as vital and important to The God. That aspect is salvation from the power, practice, and pleasure of sin.
Salvation from The Power, Practice, and Pleasure of Sin
The present aspect of salvation from sin as taught in Scripture is seldom emphasized in modern evangelism. The present aspect of Scriptural salvation from sin delivers or rescues sinners from the power of sin, from the practice of sin, and from the pleasure of sin.
The Power of Sin
The Lord Jesus died and rose again out of dead ones not only to save the sinner from the penalty of sin but also to save him or her from the power of sin so that he or she no longer serves as a bondslave to the sin. Paul wrote to the Romans that sin is no longer to exercise lordship or to reign over those who are saved. The reason for this is that Scriptural salvation includes saving from the power of sin.
We Must No Longer Serve Sin! Here is what Paul wrote:
Here is what Paul asked in Romans 6:1,2, “Shall we continue in sin? . . . God forbid! How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” But the essence of these questions is, Shall we continue under the reign of sin as a master? Verse 12 indicates that sin was the reigning master over man until righteousness was made available by Jesus Christ. But since the reigning master was conquered through Christ’s death on Calvary, sin need not reign any longer, yea, it must not reign over the regenerated child of The God. Peter called it departing in death to sins.
“Who Himself bore up our sins in His body upon the wood in order that we, ones becoming departed ones in death to the sins, absolutely live in the righteousness; by Whose lacerations you were cured” (1 Pet. 2:24 *).
Now grace superabounds and we who have committed our lives in trust to Christ are no longer alive in sin, but are dead to sin and alive in Christ. We have been saved and freed from the power of sin (Rom. 8:2) and must no longer serve sin!
“Knowing this, that the old human of ours is crucified together |with Him| so that the body of the sin become ineffective so that we no longer continue serving as a bondslave to the Sin. For the one |who| died off stands justified from the sin. Therefore the sin is to stop reigning in the mortal body of yours so that you not continue obeying it in its cravings! Neither continue yielding your members as weapons of unrighteousness for the sin! But offer yourselves at once |as sacrifices| to The God, as ones absolutely living out of dead ones and your members as weapons of righteousness for The God! For sin shall not exercise lordship over you” (Rom. 6:6,7,12-14*).
Therefore we must no longer serve sin!
The Practice of Sin
Since we are no longer bondslaves to Sin through death, being crucified together with Christ no longer to serve sin, we must no longer live in sin. In his Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul reasoned with them that they who are alive in Christ are saved from sin, and therefore they are dead to sin. As a result all who are saved from sin and dead to sin,
“the absolutely living ones no longer absolutely live to themselves but to The One |Who| died off and was raised up in behalf of them. . . . So that if (and it is true) anyone |be| in Christ, a new creature! The early things passed away. Lo! the all things are permanently become a new kind” (2 Cor. 5:14-17*).
The old life of sin is passed. We are new creatures in Christ. We are not to continue to live for ourselves as we did before we were saved from sin. In Romans 6:1,2*, Paul asks, “Shall we remain on in sin in order that the grace abound? May it never be! We, whoever died off to the sin, how yet shall we absolutely live in it?” We must no longer live in sin! Paul also exhorted,
“Therefore brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die. But if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are being led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:12-14).
Why must we no longer live in sin? Because we are
Sanctified by Faith. The word translated ‘sanctify’ literally means “to set apart as holy to God, to separate unto a holy relationship with The God.” Its noun forms are translated ‘holy, sanctification, sanctity, and holiness. A kindred word to ‘sanctify’ is the word translated ‘purify, pure, purity, and pureness.’ It is clear that The True God intends that all those He saves from sin shall live pure and holy lives. If we are forgiven and regenerated, we are sanctified! This is a definite fact. But sanctified how?
The Lord Jesus made it clear to Paul and he repeatedly emphasized it in his Epistles. “Sanctified by faith, |namely| the one on the basis of Mine” (Acts 26:18*). It is not our faith. Here it is the faith of The Son of God, Christ’s faith. It is only your faith or my faith that is based on Christ’s faith which counts in Scriptural salvation and sanctification (see Rom. 3:22,26; 10:8,17; 2:16,20; 4:22; Eph 3:12; Phil 3:9. The presence of the definite article in the Greek is very important in differentiating between emphasis on a particular or previously referenced noun or rather the quality, nature or character of the noun is stressed by absence of the definite article). The Lord Jesus Himself said that both salvation (including repentance, conversion, forgiveness of sins, and regeneration) and sanctification (set apart to a holy relationship with The Holy and True God which results in holy living) are ours by faith based on His Faith. The question is raised, what is Jesus Christ’s faith? It is the faith which He committed to The God and His Father that if He became sin, suffered God’s wrath on Calvary, shed His blood, resurrected and ascended, become our Great High Priest and apply His blood on the Mercy Seat, he would provide complete and full salvation from sin for all who totally commit trust to Him.
On the basis of our continually totally committing trust in The Lord Jesus Christ we are saved and sanctified. Now we are responsible to act upon this truth, acknowledge it to be so in order that we no longer live in sin! Certainly God’s Holy Spirit will not lead anyone to sin and especially will not lead one to keep on practicing sin. Peter wrote, “No longer live the rest of time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Pet. 4:2).
We must no longer practice sin! We have become partakers of divine nature and therefore successfully escaped the corruption which is in the world by means of passionate lust (2 Pet. 1:4). This disobedient condition from which we are saved finds its remedy in God’s provision to yield our members as instruments of righteousness to God, thus enabling us to live by the power of the Spirit of God as children of obedience walking in holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16). The salvation that Christ has procured and offers to all by faith is not only a salvation from the plight and penalty of sin, it is also a salvation from the power and practice of sin. To separate these two aspects is to fragment salvation. We must neither believe nor preach a fragmentary salvation that offers salvation of our souls to ease the conscience, assure that the penalty for our sins is paid, and eternity is secure, giving license to live as you please.
Sin outrages the holiness of The God. Continuing in sin while claiming to be saved insults, disgraces, and negates the grace of The God. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit of The God (Eph. 4:30). John makes some very strong statements about those who continually practice sin:
“Whosoever sinneth (keeps on sinning – present tense) hath not seen Him, neither known Him” (1 Jn . 3:6).
“He that committeth (keeps on committing) sin is of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:18).
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin (does not keep committing sin), for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin (is not able to keep sinning), because he is born of The God” (1 Jn. 3:9).
Whosoever doth not (does not keep on doing) righteousness is not of The God” (1 Jn. 3:10).
These statements demand that he who is saved from the penalty of sin be also saved from the practice of sin. Therefore we must no longer practice sin!
The Pleasure of Sin
Furthermore we no longer delight in the pleasures of sin. If one is truly regenerated by The Holy Spirit, Scripturally saved from sin, the desire and enjoyment of sin is curtailed. We come to realize that the pleasures of sin are only for a season, then they dissipate and no longer satisfy. But Scriptural faith causes one to choose between the temporal pleasures of sin and the eternal pleasures at the right hand of The true God. Paul wrote of Moses,
“. . . when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).
“Psalm 16:11 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
It is a matter of choice and an act of trust that what The True God states in Scripture is true. So it must be true in your life and mine. Then depend upon Him to make it so.
THE EXCLUSION OF SALVATION
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he asked them, “ Or you are aware that unjust ones shall not inherit God’s Kingdom, are you not?” (1 Cor. 6:9a*). Then he stated emphatically,
“Stop erring! Either fornicators [sexually immoral ones], or idolaters, or adulterers, or effeminate ones, or homosexuals [sodomites], or thieves, or covetous, or drunkards, or revilers, or greedy plunderous ones shall definitely not inherit the Kingdom of The God” (vs. 9b-10 APT*).
Is it not clear: that Scriptural salvation excludes the continued practice of sinning? And that to keep on practicing sinning excludes eternal salvation? Paul repeated this concept to the Galatians,
“Now the works of the flesh are conspicuous, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, excessive unbridled shameless life-style, idolatry, drug abuse, enmities, contentions, jealousies [boiling envious zeal], passionate wraths, strifes, dissensions, heresies, envies, murders, intoxications, revelries, and the similar ones to these; which I am foretelling you, according as I also told before, ‘The ones practicing such things shall not inherit God’s Kingdom’” (Gal. 5:19-21*).
See also Ephesians 5:5 and Colossians 3:6. Paul further confirmed this concept in his treatise to the
Hebrews. He insisted that without holiness (purity) no one shall see The Lord (Heb. 12:14). John
records the emphasis that Jesus placed on overcoming sin in Revelation (cf. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21).
This is not to say that we never sin again. We are not now, nor will we be, sinless until such time that
The Lord Jesus Christ comes again in the air for His church. But it is meant to emphasize that we will
not continue to practice sinning, though we may slip or inadvertently sin from time to time. We will
not purposely or intentionally sin nor will we treat sin lightly. We will not reach sinlessness or sinless
perfection until the Lord Jesus Christ comes in the air to take His saints unto Himself. Then we will
receive a glorified body like the glorious body of the Lord Jesus Christ, never to sin again. But in the
meantime, John said, “Every man (everyone) that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He
is pure” (1 Jn. 3:3). This wonderful Scriptural salvation enables us to keep clean or when we do fall
and sin, to confess that sin, then turn from it, then “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us
from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7). And in this way we maintain a holy walk with The God. No we may not
achieve sinlessness, but surely we must abandon sin.
One of the meanings of sanction appropriate to our topic is “a consideration, principle, or influence (as of conscience) that impels to moral action” (Webster). With such emphatic declarations as those written by the beloved apostle John, can there be any doubt that true Scriptural salvation from sin is not fragmentary? Can there be any doubt that fragmentary salvation is a doctrine of ‘another gospel’ which Paul condemned in (2 Corinthians 11:4 and Galatians 1:6-8)? Is it any wonder with the amount of evangelical preaching of an incomplete salvation that there is so little conviction of sin and so little power to overcome sin?
Let us be true and faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God which superabounds sin! Let us faithfully serve our precious, wonderful, and glorious Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and proclaim a full and complete Salvation which it cost Him so much to provide!
If you are struggling with repeated practice of sin, repent and totally commit trust to the Lord Jesus Christ once and for all right now! Then journey on your way in purity and holy living in the power of The Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit!
*APT - A Precise Translation | | understood
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