Sister Brenda Roberts and I were joking back and forth on Thursday about the need to learn new things. She is apparently right-handed, and it was her right shoulder which had surgery on Monday. So she is having to learn to do simple, every-day things differently – with her secondary arm. She asked me, “Have you ever tried buttering bread left handed?” Picture that for a moment, or think how you’d cut your meat with only one hand, or comb your hair. At some point I said, “Learning new things every day keeps us young.” Children learn things nearly every day, and they are young. Maybe if we adults learned like children it might keep us, and our brains, supple like those of children.
I say that in order to say, “I hope you don’t mind learning new things about the Lord Jesus.” I hope you don’t get bored hearing messages about Christ. I trust you know that the Lord is infinite, and we are going to learn new things about Him throughout eternity. But why can’t we begin our “continued education” while still here in the flesh? I pray that I am sufficiently mature, that from time to time, I’ll have fresh insight to share about our Saviour.
And in that regard, what about the salvation which our Saviour died to provide? Is there more we can learn about salvation? I think there is. This message may not reflect the blessings that I have been receiving in regard to salvation, but I have been learning things about this subject which I’ve never seen before. Maybe over the next few weeks or months I’ll be sufficiently equipped to share some of them with you.
As we saw last week, Joseph and Mary brought their forty-day old baby into the Temple to return Him to God as the first fruit of their family. Simeon met them with his arms outstretched and his eyes pleading for permission to hold the child. For years he had been looking for the “consolation of Israel,” and the Holy Spirit told him that his desire would be satisfied. When he took Jesus up, holding him next to his heart, he said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” Salvation is not a state of being, nor is it simply an act of God’s grace; salvation is the Person of Christ. And the Christian life is the spending of our few days in this world serving and glorifying our Saviour. When elderly Anna joined the little group, do you think that she could walk away without holding Jesus? Like Simeon she had been looking for “redemption” (Luke 2:38), and now He was in her arms.
One of the lessons last week was the need to cradle the Person of Salvation next to our heart. That shouldn’t be a once in a lifetime opportunity – the catalyst toward our shallow definition of salvation. Holding Christ close should be one of the characteristics of our new life in Christ – salvation. And with that as our background, l’d like us to review some of the foundational principles behind salvation. The closer we are to Christ and His salvation the more we will enjoy meditating on our Saviour and that salvation.
The English word “salvation” is found about 150 times in the Bible, with 2/3 of those references in the Old Testament. That in itself might surprise some people, but I hope it doesn’t surprise you. There are four Hebrew words translated “salvation” and two Greek words, with at least two being close cousins to each other. So basically there are threw Hebrew and one Greek word translated “salvation.” In reading through all of them, looking mostly at the New Testament, I found only three verses which added an adjective to the word “salvation.” It was one of those adjectives which caught my attention and pushed me toward this message.
But for the sake of a three point outline, I’m going to consider them all. Hebrews 2:2-3 – “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast (permanent), and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward (every sin was judged); How shall WE escape, if we neglect so GREAT salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” Hebrews 5:8-9 says, though Christ was God’s Son, ”yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of ETERNAL salvation unto all them that obey him.” And Jude 1:3 – “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the COMMON salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” The Bible applies three adjectives to “salvation” – “great,” “eternal” and “common.”
Let’s start with Paul’s statement in Hebrews 5 – Christ is the author of ETERNAL salvation.
No one needs a PhD or a Doctorate in Theology to know that “eternal” means something like “never ending.” James Strong uses the synonyms “for ever” and “everlasting” to explain “aionios” (ahee-o’-nee-os). And W.E. Vine believes that at far as time is concerned, “eternal” is “undefined, because it is endless.” Paul says that the salvation of which Christ is the author – the Cause, Source and Creator – never ends. Salvation is eternal.
This is extremely important for several reasons. First, there are many make-believe salvations of which Christ is not the author – cause, source or creator. For example, there are false salvations which depend on adhering to systems of rules – sometimes simple but usually complex systems of rules. Let’s say that one of the rules for salvation is to love our neighbor. If salvation was dependent on loving everyone we meet then no one would ever be saved. There are some people who, quite simply, are unloveable by most people. And then there is the fact that our hearts are too shallow and insensitive to obey that command. And if salvation was dependent on 100% church attendance, then it could not be eternal, because no human being is capable sustaining perfect attendance until the day of his death. Once a week perhaps, but what about twice on Sunday and praying without ceasing during the week? If salvation required 100% – 10% giving, then it could not be eternal, because none of us are faithful enough to count and tithe on the carrots, tomatoes and spinach leaves out of our gardens. Christ is not the author of baptismal salvation or Lord’s Supper salvation – “communal salvation?” – because those are the figment of religious imaginations. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of salvations which have not come from the heart of Christ.
Paul said, “Being made perfect, (Christ Jesus) became the AUTHOR of ETERNAL salvation unto all them that obey him.” The obedience to which he refers is repentance and faith. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” – eternally.
And the fact is, so many of the religions preaching salvations which have not been authored by Christ, openly declare that their salvations are not eternal. Many denominations, claiming to be a part of Christianity, teach human-centered, ego-centric, salvation. And when their semi-believers fail to meet the standards of those religions – in other words, when they sin – they are told that they lose their salvation. But if sinlessness was the criteria for salvation, there wouldn’t ever be anyone saved, except Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi and Superman. Some denominations openly teach the necessity of multiple salvations, because the salvation they preach does not come from Christ. And many religions base their financial stability on expecting their members to be constantly re-saved. But in contrast to them Christ Jesus, “Being made perfect, became the author of ETERNAL salvation.”
And the application of the salvation of Jesus Christ is also eternal, because those whom He saves are kept by the power of God unto the completion of salvation – I Peter 1:5. I am “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” – Philippians 1:6. Paul said that he was persuaded that nothing would ever be able to separate the saved person from the love and salvation of God which is found in Christ Jesus. Christ’s salvation is eternal.
But something people forget – or ignore – about this word is that “eternal” doesn’t apply only into the future. Christ’s eternal salvation began in eternity past, and it will never end in eternity future. And to be honest, “eternity past” and “eternity future” are tools used by faulty human languages. There is only one eternity. Time is only a tiny dot in midst of a limitless eternity, extending in every direction. And those who have been given Christ’s eternal salvation were “chosen… in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”
If Christ has saved you then you possess ETERNAL salvation.
A second adjective Paul used to describe salvation is a big one – we have been given a GREAT salvation.
Heb. 2:2-3 – “If the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so GREAT salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” The Greek word behind “great” is translated only two ways in our Bibles – “great” and “mighty.” Each helps to explain the other. “Great” could speak about size, for example, or power, and sometimes it speaks about age. “Mighty” talks about strength and, thus, could be a word used to talk about the power of the Columbia River, the Nile or the Mississippi. James, in his discourse on the tongue, uses sea-going-ships as an illustration. “Behold also the ships, which though they be so GREAT, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.” James could have been thinking about either the wheel or, more likely, the rudder of the ship, both of which are small compared to the size of the ship itself. And then John speaks about what may be eventually be the world’s largest and most damaging earthquake, calling it a “so MIGHTY an earthquake, and so GREAT.” – Revelation 16:18.
How is Christ’s salvation “great?” It is SO great that I’m not sure that I have equipment, or the words, capable of measuring and explaining it. But perhaps we can use the yardstick of sin to measure God’s great salvation. What is humanity’s most horrendous sin? Is it idolatry? Homosexuality? Pedophilia? Murder? Genocide? How about the genocide of abortion? Was man’s worst sin the crucifixion of Christ? Is it unbelief, as many people say? I don’t believe that any great theologian has the ability to make a definitive statement.
Our problem is that we don’t see as God sees; we don’t feel as God feels; we can’t measure as God does. I can’t say for sure, but I think that if we piled a hundred of man’s greatest sins…. If we stacked up a thousand sins, and asked the Lord to tell us how offensive they were to Him…. He would say that those thousand sins were no more offensive than the white lie you told to keep from hurting someone’s feelings. I believe that the “least” of our sins is “great” and hideously offensive to the God who is infinitely holy.
And how MANY sins have we committed against the Lord? If we are only moderately sinful, and have transgressed the Lord’s will only once a day throughout our lives, how many times have we sinned against the Lord? A fifty-year-old person has lived more than 18,000 days. I would guess that most of us, if not all of us, have committed far more than one sin a day. Have we sinned 20,000 times? Measured in dollars 20,000 is a big number.
Even if the number is five times greater than 20,000, Christ’s salvation is greater than that. The saving blood of Christ is greater than the sins of Jeffrey Dahmer or Josef Mengele, Auschwitz’s “Angel of death.” The salvation of Christ was capable of delivering Judas Iscariot from the judgment which his sins deserved – but of course he lacked repentance and faith. Saul of Tarsus had the blood of murdered Christians on his hands, and yet Christ’s salvation cleansed him as easily as it did Mary, the wife of Joseph.
If you want to say that “great” refers to age, then it becomes the same thing as “eternal” salvation.
“If the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so GREAT salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” No one can walk away from the Lord’s salvation saying they are too wicked a sinner for Christ to save. Who are you to despise the sovereign omnipotence and infinite grace of God? Don’t be so proud as to say that your sins are greater than God’s ability to save.
The salvation of Christ is both great and eternal, which in some ways overlap. But our third adjective doesn’t even come close to overlapping or intersecting these other two.
Jude, the brother of James, described salvation as COMMON.
Before I get to the word, let me point out that Jude tells us exactly why we need to study this word – to study all the great doctrines of the Bible. We need to study them, to be filled with them, and to share them with others. The doctrine of Christ’s salvation has been under attack for more than two thousand years. In fact, everything about our Saviour has been under attack by humanists, hedonists and half wits for two millennia. In his epistle, the author introduces himself to us and then tells us that we need to fight for the truth of God. “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ (with eternal salvation), and called: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the COMMON salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. FOR (because) there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jude speaks of Christ’s salvation as “common.” At first glance some people might think of that as the antithesis of “great” and “eternal.” But he is not saying that salvation is “small and shallow” or “ordinary and cheap.” Paul uses the same word in writing “To Titus, mine own son after the COMMON faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
This word has a couple of meanings, and both lead us to important applications. The first meaning of common is “something which is available to everyone.” It is the Greek word “koinos” (koy-nos’). Judy, Bro. Berg, and perhaps Bro. Fulton, will remember that one of our former pastors’ loved to use this word. The language which Jude and Paul spoke was Greek, but more specifically it was “Koine Greek.” It wasn’t the highfalutin’, bombastic Greek of the university or that which was spoken on Mars Hill by the Athenian philosophers. It was the common language which was spoken on the streets of Corinth. It was slangy Greek – the language used in the market place and among friends. “Koinos’” first meaning is “something which is shared; something common between large groups of people.” The salvation of Christ is available to everyone – educated and uneducated.
As the Christian era was just beginning, and the church in Jerusalem was exploding with new believers, there was a love and a unique family relationship between the members, with some interesting effects. Acts 2:44 says that one of them was that “all that believed were together, and had all things COMMON.” There is our word – the members of the church, under a period of famine and eventually persecution, shared what they had with one another. Two chapters later this was reiterated – “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things COMMON.” When Jude and Paul spoke of the “common faith” and “common salvation,” they were referring to the fact that it was the same for everyone. The Jews didn’t have a different salvation than the Gentiles, and younger people didn’t have a different kind of faith than their parents. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to ALL men.”
Again, I say, it doesn’t matter what terrible sins you have committed, you may have the same salvation that your mother and grandmother have been given. It doesn’t matter if you are a drunk or an opioid or pornography addict… You may have killed your unborn baby or had a homosexual affair… You may be saved in the same way – and to the same degree – as the philanthropist and the generous humanitarian. In fact, the word “common” may lean more toward the awful sinner than toward the righteous person. I say that because of the other ways in which “koinos” (koy-nos’) is used in God’s Word.
Do you remember in Acts 10 when the Spirit was telling Peter to give the gospel to the Gentile, Cornelius? Do you remember the lesson of the sheet coming down from heaven filled with non-kosher foods. The Apostle was told “Rise, Peter, kill, and eat.” “But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is COMMON or UNCLEAN.” The Holy Spirit replied, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Later Peter told Cornelius, “Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man COMMON or UNCLEAN.” And then in the next chapter Peter said the same thing to the church in Jerusalem – a church which was filled with highly respectable, law-abiding, Jews, many of whom had been ultra-pharisaic.
Not only did the Jews use the word “koinos” (koy-nos’) in that negative sort of way, referring to Gentiles. But there are scriptures where the word is even more negative. In Mark 7 we read, “Then came together unto (Christ Jesus) the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with DEFILED, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.” The word “koinos” (koy-nos’) in this verse is translated “defiled.” And in Hebrews 10:29 it is even worse than that – if that is possible. There it is translated “unholy.” “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an UNHOLY thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
I admit that “defiled” and “unholy” sound terrible when applied to our verse in Jude, but actually it is a good thing. It takes us back to our earlier verse – “How shall we escape, if we neglect so GREAT salvation?” My point is this: Christ’s great salvation is available to everyone. Stepping that up a notch – Christ’s great salvation is available to God’s nation of Israel and also to the nations of the Gentiles – like us. And then taking it even a step higher – Christ’s salvation is also for the unholy and thoroughly defiled. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And “the wages of sin is death.” But the great gift of God is eternal life – eternal salvation – through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As Jude tells us in his letter – “when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the COMMON salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith….” The gospel of Christ’s great salvation cannot be taught, preached and declared often enough. We all need to learn more of this great and eternal salvation whether or not we are a Christian. And if you are not a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus, then you lack the greatest possible gift and the greatest blessing available to you this sinful world. You need to be born again. Repent before God and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be given His great salvation.