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by John Ritchie (1853-1930)

John RitchieThe salvation of God is threefold — past, present, and future. The following Scriptures give the testimony of God on this great subject in various aspects:

Salvation: Past

Romans 1:16. For 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.

Acts 28:28. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

Acts 16:31. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Romans 10:10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Mark 16:16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

John 10:9. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Isaiah 45:22. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Luke 7:50. And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

1 Corinthians 1:18. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 15:2. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

2 Timothy 1:9. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

Titus 3:5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

Salvation: Present

Hebrews 7:25. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Romans 5:9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

James 1:21. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

1 Timothy 4:6. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

Proverbs 20:22. Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

Psalms 119:94. I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.

Psalms 37:39. But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.

Philippians 2:12. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

1 Peter 2:2. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

Salvation: Future

Romans 13:11. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

Hebrews 9:28. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Philippians 3:20. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:8. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

"He that is our God is the God of salvation" (Psalm 68:20). "The salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles" (Acts 28:28) in this day of Gospel grace.

"Salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9). The work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Originated by God the Father, wrought out through Christ the Son, applied by the Holy Spirit. To Jesus, and to Him alone, has the name of "Saviour" been given. "Neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:12).

Man in Need of a Saviour.

Man by nature is lost to God. He is "without strength" (Rom. 5:6); he cannot save himself. Neither religion nor philanthropy can save him. The Church has no power to save; neither priest nor parson can bring the sinner nigh to God. It cannot be done by works, or prayers, or penance. "Salvation belongeth unto the LORD" (Psalm 3:8). "Beside Me there is no Saviour" (Isaiah 43:11).

Man as a sinner has no claim upon God: he is under condemnation, ready to perish. Righteousness can only seal his sentence: if salvation comes to him, it must be by grace.

Salvation by Grace Alone.

"The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11). "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Yet that grace flows through righteousness (Rom. 5:21). God has not ignored His own justice, or set aside His own righteousness, in saving lost and guilty sinners. The Cross of Christ is the witness of God's justice as well as the expression of His love. Love gave the Son; righteousness demanded that He should die. That death has opened a way whereby grace can go forth to the sinner and deal with him. Hence the death of Jesus Christ is always mentioned as the procuring cause of man's salvation: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). "The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost" (Matthew 18:11).

The Gospel of Salvation.

The "glad tidings" sent from God among "all nations" (Romans 16:26) and to "every creature" (Mark 16:15) is the Gospel of a present salvation (Ephesians 1:13) and "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16). There is no restriction. God has provided salvation for all men, yet only such as welcome the message will be saved. The alternative is damnation. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).

The Way of Salvation.

The damsel at Philippi said concerning Paul and Silas, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17). There are no diverse ways: God has one way, and that way is so plain that he may run that readeth. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31), was the Divine reply to the anxious sinner's question, "What must I do to be saved?" It remains the same. To look to Christ is to be saved (Isaiah 45:22). To enter in by Him, the only door, is to be a possessor of salvation (John 10:9). There is no other way to God: all other ways lead to hell.

The Salvation which is Past.

The believer can look back to the day and hour when by faith he laid hold of Jesus as his personal Saviour, as the time of his salvation. "Who hath saved us" (2 Timothy 1:8-9), "Which are saved" (1 Corinthians 1:18) are God's words concerning believers. They are not hoping, or waiting, or praying to be saved. They have the "knowledge of salvation" (Luke 1:77) by believing the Word of God: assurance comes by believing God, the joy of salvation follows (Isaiah 12:2,3).

The Salvation which is Present.

"He is able also to save them to the uttermost" (or to the very end) "that come unto God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25). "Much more being reconciled, we shall he saved by His life" (Rom. v. 10). This salvation goes on from day to day. It is carried on by the Lord Jesus in resurrection, as our Advocate (1 John 2:2) and High Priest (Hebrews 4:15,16) at God's right hand. He saveth those who trust in Him (Psalm 37:40), who wait on Him (Proverbs 20:22). There are snares and sins and temptations which the believer has to meet as he passes along the heavenward way from which he needs a daily Saviour, and that Saviour he has in the Risen Christ at God's right hand. Instrumentally, it comes to him through the Word as at first. Hence we read, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). By receiving and abiding in the Word of God the believer is saved from evil doctrine and backsliding (1 Timothy 4:6; James 1:21). Many of the prayers of Scripture, notably in the Psalms, refer to this present aspect of salvation, and not, as they are often applied, to the salvation of the sinner. For example, "I am Thine, save me" (Psalms 119:94). "Save us, O God of our salvation" (1 Chronicles 16:35). In this connection believers are exhorted. "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you" (Philippians 2:12,13).

The Salvation which is Future.

"Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Romans 13:11). "We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus" (Philippians 3:20). "He shall appear the second time without sin, unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28). Salvation is here viewed in its future aspect, when, at the coming of the Lord from Heaven, believers on earth who are "alive and remain," together with those that sleep in Jesus, shall be glorified together with Christ, and thus in spirit, soul, and body, shall become sharers of the salvation of the Lord. Looking forward to that day we are "saved by hope" (Romans 8:24), and the helmet worn upon our heads, enabling us to look the enemy and accuser full in the face, is "the hope of salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Not that vague, uncertain hope cherished by the formalist and the hypocrite, that one day somehow hell will be escaped and Heaven gained, but the abounding hope (Romans 15:4) of those who already rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and who are able triumphantly to sing, "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid" (Isaiah 12:2). "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" (Psalms 27:1).

Believers are therefore able to say — we are saved: we are being saved: we shall be saved. Their salvation from sin's penalty is PAST. Salvation from sin's power is PRESENT. Salvation from sin's presence is FUTURE. By the death of Jesus on the Cross sin's penalty has been borne; by His life upon the throne its power has been broken; and soon by His return its presence, so far as the believer is concerned, will be gone.

Glorious salvation of the Lord, purchased at infinite cost! Well may he sing with heart and voice, "I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:18). To the unbeliever the solemn question comes, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3).

From Foundation Truths of the Gospel by John Ritchie. 2nd ed. Kilmarnock: Office of "The Believer's Magazine," [1904].

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