The faith of God’s child is everlasting. Jesus tells us inJohn 15:5 that except we abide in Him,—and that means by faith,—we can do nothing. We surely shall do much in the new creation, and that exactly because the bond of faith wherewith we are united with Christ has not been dissolved but rather come to its perfection. Faith has no end in that sense that presently it is not to be found in us any more. Paul speaks of his confidence that the good work,—and that includes faith,—which God has begun in us, He will perform until the day of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:6. And then it will not, cease to be given us, but given in richer measure and in its perfection. Faith has a beginning, but it has no end as contrasted to the beginning. The essential element of faith is trust; and the regenerated child-of God shall never lose his trust in God.
But we can speak of the end of our faith as contrasted to faith as the means unto salvation. Peter speaks that way in I Peter 1:9. There he states, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” Faith is presented as the means unto salvation in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” In both of these passages it becomes plain that the end or goal of faith is salvation. We are saved by means of, or through, faith. And salvation is the end of our faith.
This does not mean that when the end is reached, the means is, discarded. For we do not receive salvation as a wrapped up package at the end of time and after faith has brought us to the point where we will obtain it. We have salvation in this life from the moment of regeneration and from the moment of ingrafting by faith into Christ. Does Paul not tell us to work out our own salvation? How can we work out that which we do not yet have? But we do have it in this life. For Paul adds in Philippians 2:12, 13, “For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” We will refer to this text again in a moment, but let it suffice for the moment to point out that this exactly is our salvation. If you have the will and the ability to do God’s good pleasure, you have salvation. You are saved from your evil will and works. Your life is even as that of Christ, the Vine, into whom by faith you have been ingrafted. You do have salvation. You have the principle of it within you and the beginning of that new obedience. And yet through the remainder of your earthly life you will still have the means. Similarly the life-giving blood reaches your organs and every cell in your body by means of arteries and capillaries. But do these arteries and capillaries dissolve thereafter? Can we discard them? Of course not. We need them from moment to moment as means to carry more life-giving blood to our members. So it is with faith. The end of that faith is salvation, but it is not an end for but a time. Without Christ, that is, apart from Him,—which is the correct translation,—we can do nothing. We will continue to be united to Him by the bond of faith and thus to draw out of Him all the power to live before God as His covenant children. We will not lose these spiritual arteries and capillaries through which all our spiritual life comes to us from Christ. Faith is the means whereby the end, namely, our salvation, is everlastingly ours to have and enjoy.
We do well to consider this salvation. There are many, many facets to that salvation; and much can be and has been written about it. And yet, as a rule a very superficial concept of salvation prevails. A salvation is proclaimed today that appeals to everyone, even to the devil himself. Men are coaxed and enticed into a beautiful heaven and kingdom where the flesh of every man, woman, and child craves to be. He may not want to “accept” this Jesus that is so cheaply hawked and offered. But he will want that salvation, if only it can be gotten another way. And he most assuredly does not want that hell fire with which he is threatened. Neither by the fear of that fire nor by the allurements of that kingdom, however, will you get them to “accept” this Jesus. And to many that is all that there is to salvation: one is saved from hell’s fire to enjoy heaven’s bliss.
That, of course; is a purely carnal concept of salvation and requires no faith for acceptance. The very nature of man, his sinful nature, desires such a salvation. Therefore the atheist in the face of death and injury can cry out what men would call a prayer to God for salvation. Many would be ready to cry out with Peter as he began to sink amid the fierce waves, “Lord, save me!” and have no interest at all in being saved from unbelief. Salvation from a watery grave or death on the battlefield appeals to all flesh of all mankind. But what about salvation from unbelief and sin?
We do well to remember that the whole man fell in paradise. He fell legally into guilt and the obligation to suffer God’s wrath in hell. That is the punishment for his sin, that agony in hell. And his guilt is the consequence of his sin. He became guilty through sin. But do not lose sight of the fact that he fell into SIN and that with his whole being. Salvation will have to be far more than the removal of this guilt and of this punishment. Deliverance from these is important. But if this is all that which we have, our faith has not reached the end for which God designed it. Nor have we reached the end to which our faith looks. Our flesh may look with eager anticipation to an end of suffering and death. Faith looks at something quite different and. deeper. For the body did not simply fall into physical death with all its phases and degrees. The death that God predicted and into which Adam fell was not simply physical death. That death he did not receive fully the day he ate of the forbidden fruit. But God spoke the truth. Adam did die spiritually the day he ate of the forbidden fruit. He no longer had in him the will and the ability to do God’s good pleasure. He became absolutely incapable of doing any spiritual good from that moment and until God began to work salvation in him by regeneration. We will need to be saved from that spiritual death. We are ethically corrupt by nature, as well as legally guilty before God. And therefore we need sanctification as surely as we need justification. The end of our faith is that we are made to be holy as well as it is that we are made to be righteous.
The regenerated child of God will reveal also a desire for holiness and not simply for justification. A so-called evangelist who comes with a so-called gospel may gather greater multitudes than Jesus was ever able to assemble. He may move them to tears and get many “decisions” for Christ. He may picture the glory so wonderfully that no flesh can resist it and depict the horrors of hell so vividly that all will shudder at its awfulness and consider escape an absolute must. But he has neither preached the gospel nor taught his audience the salvation that is in Christ, unless he has preached holiness and salvation from sin in every phase and aspect. There are far too many would-be evangelists who bring a “warm message” of “compassion for souls” that is obnoxious to the living God. And they preach a “gospel” that is not good news but a deceptive bit of philosophy. O, indeed, in Jesus’ day, during His ministry upon this earth, they flocked from the comers of Canaan to seek relief from sicknesses and pain, from affliction and death. And thousands upon thousands enjoyed the sight of the sick being healed, the lame being given power to walk, the blind receiving sight. That all looked good and gave such wondrous hope for their own physical distresses and sufferings due to the human race because of the curse. They would even be willing to admit that these things came into the world because of sin. Just deliver them from these effects and wages of sin; and everything will be wonderful. Jesus will be received with open arms as; their King. And yet somewhat later they all forsook Him and followed Him no more. Pretty soon the raising of Lazarus from the dead becomes the occasion for them to decide that He and Lazarus both must be put to death. How do you explain it? A modem would-be evangelist can “pack them in” and make salvation so plain and enticing to them. And Jesus; the Saviour, made such a miserable failure of the whole business that His disciples were puzzled and confused. Until the Spirit was poured out in their hearts, they did not understand. But meanwhile there was something else that still held them to this Saviour, even in the midst of all their misunderstanding and perplexity. They desired a salvation that DID include salvation from the love and power of sin. They desired to be saved from hell’s fire. And so may you and I. Nor did Jesus rebuke those who sought healing and cure for their maladies and physical afflictions. He is a merciful High Priest, and He shuddered Himself at the awfulness of what He had to suffer in hell’s fire for us. Great drops of blood like sweat gathered upon His brow in Gethsemane in anticipation. But if that is all that you and I desire, if salvation for us is no more than an escape from the wages and punishment of sin, we are not one whit different from Satan and all his hosts. DO you for one minute believe that they look forward to hell and its agony? Do you for one minute believe that they go there willingly and seek it? And were there a way for them to escape it without anything more, do you believe that they would turn it down? But that is not the end of our faith according to the Word of God.
Take note of Hebrews 12:14. We read, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” And holiness is not deliverance from the guilt of sin and punishment of sin, from the curse and death. Holiness is deliverance from the pollution, de love and the power of sin. As we already pointed out, the essence of salvation, according to Paul in Philippians 2:12, 13, is that we are saved from our unwillingness and inability to love and serve God and that God has worked in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. That element ought to be emphasized today in the preaching. We purpose, next time, D.V., to have more to say about this, but let it be stated now.
That element must always be emphasized in the preaching, and God did so Himself in His first sermon to fallen man. He spoke of enmity between seed and seed. He promised holiness, sanctification. And although justification is there in the cross, which is implied in the bruising of the heel of The Seed of the woman, sanctification is surely on the foreground. And since the fear of the Lord is the New Testament faith in God, we may say that in His fear one will seek salvation from the love and power of sin in the way of and upon the basis of salvation from the guilt and punishment of sin.