Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 10, 1960
NUMBER 27, PAGE 1,12c-13

Five Views Of Salvation

Irvin Himmel, St. Louis, Missouri

A single picture seldom gives a clear understanding, whether of a material object, a proposition, or an idea. Keen perception is made difficult by limited vision. For instance, it is doubtful that anyone would purchase a house on the basis of a newspaper photograph. Though the picture might be excellent, that one view would hardly enable the individual to have all the information desired before investing money in the property. Many times we do not grasp the import of a controversial question because we view it from one side only. Our knowledge of a subject, even a Bible topic, may be imperfect because we have studied from one angle alone. If all that we have ever heard or read on a given subject has been from one point of view, our concept could easily be warped.

The Scriptures present the subject of salvation from numerous angles. The purpose of this article is to notice five pictures of salvation presented by Peter in his first letter, chapter 1. No subject could be of more importance than the salvation of a man's soul. For that reason we should he interested in understanding it as fully as possible.

1. Peter Pictures Salvation In Purpose

The whole scope of Peter's letter shows that Christians are being addressed. In verse 2 of chapter 1, they are said to be, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father...." To "elect" means "to choose." Hence, the elect are the chosen. This passage does not tell how men are chosen, but other passages supply that information. Paul told the saints at Thessalonica that "he called you by our gospel." (2 Thess. 2:14) This makes it clear that men are called to salvation through the gospel. But not all who hear the gospel are willing to obey it, "For many are called, but few chosen." (Matt. 22:14) All who hear the gospel are called; those who accept the gospel are chosen. The elect of God, then, are those who hear and obey the truth.

Now observe that men are "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God." We have learned from the Bible that our election or calling is by means of the gospel, That gospel was in the mind of God long before He put it into the mind of any man. God's plan for man's salvation was a part of His eternal purpose. Until it was revealed, it was a mystery. Paul said he was given grace, "To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world bath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith if him." (Eph. 3:8-12) "Foreknowledge" is "knowledge of a thing before it happens." Our salvation by the gospel was planned in the mind of God in eternity. The gospel was revealed as God had purposed it. Since we are elected or chosen to salvation by the gospel, all Christians are "Elect according to," not contrary to, -the foreknowledge of God." It is as simple as this: Our salvation is in harmony with God's eternal purpose, having orginated in His infinite wisdom.

II. Peter Pictures Salvation In Prophecy

In verse 10 Peter tells us that the prophets "prophesied of the grace that should come unto you." Many Old Testament prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah, the blessings of the gospel, and the salvation of men of all nations. Daniel foretold the approach of the Messiah and how He would be "cut off, but not for himself." (Dan. 9:25, 26) Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be, "wounded for our transgressions," "bruised for our iniquities," "oppressed," "afflicted," and "cut off out of the land of the living." (Isa. 53:4-8) Joel foretold that it would come to pass after his days that, "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered (saved)." (Joel 2:32) Zechariah prophesied that the Christ would "build the temple of the Lord," speaking of the church, "and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne...." (Zech, 6:13) Micah foretold the establishment of the kingdom and the Lord's peaceful reign. (Micah 4:1-3) Through the prophets God began to unveil, little by little, that salvation which He purposed for man.

It should be remembered that the work of the prophets of old was in anticipation of better things. Theirs was an age of comparative darkness. Peter writes, "Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." When the prophets foretold the coming salvation through Christ, they did not understand the full import of the words they uttered. Their prophecies were not their own interpretation of the future events, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of men: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Pet. 1:20, 21) Due to the fact that they spoke by divine inspiration, not by human experience or observation, the prophets then sat down to diligently study the words spoken, searching "what" or "what manner of time" was thus signified. Their knowledge of salvation was as limited as ours would be if we were without the New Testament.

III. Peter Pictures Salvation As To Price

Everything of value costs something. The greater is the value, the higher is the cost. Man's most valuable possession is the soul. Jesus asked on one occasion, "For what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26) Since "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23), it is necessary that men be redeemed. "Redeem" means to buy back. Whatever price had to be paid in order to deliver man's soul from sin and death is the price of redemption. Peter pictures the price in verse 18 and 19: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot..."

To picture salvation from the viewpoint of price is to preach the atoning blood of Jesus. Animal sacrifices under the law could never fully atone for our sins and were never intended to serve such a purpose; those sacrifices were to foreshadow the death of Christ. Silver and gold could never redeem us. It took the precious blood of Christ who, like a lamb without spot and blemish, was innocent and perfect. This was in God's eternal plan, so Peter says we were redeemed by the blood of Christ, "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you...." John writes, "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

IV. Peter Pictures Salvation As To The Process

Having seen that the gospel plan originated in the mind of God, was foretold by the prophets, and was perfected by the death of Christ, exactly what is the process by which we make individual application? Peter describes it as follows: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.... Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." (Verses 22, 23) Note that he refers to the purification of souls, not bodies. How were these souls purified? "IN OBEYING THE TRUTH....BEING BORN AGAIN." Christ paid the price to make our salvation possible, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. How may we appropriate to ourselves what He made possible? By "obeying the truth" or "being born again." Paul said to the saints at Rome, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." (Rom. 6:17, 18)

The process of our salvation consists of hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel. One cannot be saved by the blood of Christ unless he is willing to comply with the will of Christ, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb. 10:10) Christ wills that the gospel be preached to every creature, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mk. 16:15, 16)

V. Peter Pictures Salvation As To Possession

Do men now possess salvation? This is a question which provokes considerable discussion. [t can be answered correctly when we learn that the Bible uses the term "salvation" in two senses. When people obey the truth, repenting and being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), they are promised forgiveness of every sin ever committed. Those who are thus saved are added by the Lord to the church. (Acts 2:47) In this sense, salvation is presently possessed. But not all who obey the truth and receive forgiveness continue to live faithfully. Some fall from grace (Gal. 5:4) and need to do the first works. (Rev. 2:5) Some who fall away can never be brought to repentance, "Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." (Heb. 6:4-6) Consequently, one might be saved from his past sins and later turn away from the Lord and be lost. Salvation in the sense of eternal life in heaven is not possessed now, save in promise. "And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life." (1 John 2:25)

Peter views salvation in the sense of eternal life in heaven and shows that its possession is future. He says we are begotten to "a lively hope," "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to he revealed in the last time." (Verses 3-5) Here the apostle says our inheritance is "reserved in heaven," and that salvation will be "revealed in the last time." In verse 9 he writes, "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Summing up, we may say that salvation is possessed now by those who obey the truth, but salvation in the sense of life everlasting will not be enjoyed until we get to heaven.

These five views of salvation presented by Peter should give us a more comprehensive understanding. Full knowledge of the truth cannot be had by those willing to study only a part of what the Bible says on a subject. There is both a human side and a divine side to the scheme of redemption. Let us learn all the truth we can and make proper application in our own lives.