The Salvation of God: Part 1

Acts 28:28  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 8
'Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it." (Acts 28:2828Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. (Acts 28:28).)
What glorious words for us, sinners of the Gentiles! What solemn words for the house of Israel! They form the close of Paul's address to his brethren, according to the flesh, whom he had invited to meet him in his lodging at Rome. It is now eighteen hundred years since these words were uttered by the blessed apostle—that true lover of Israel; but they have lost none of their freshness, none of their living depth, none of their heavenly power, by the lapse of ages. They fall upon our ears with the same force of application as if we had been standing outside the apostle's door at the moment in which he uttered them, " The salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles."
It may be well for the reader to glance at the circumstances under which those precious words were spoken. The apostle Paul, having arrived as a prisoner at Rome—the grand center and scat of Gentile power—the fourth of Daniel's great empires—calls his much loved and longed for brethren together; and when they assembled at Ms lodging, according to appointment, "he expounded unto them, and testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive; for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."
Then follows the remarkable clause with which this paper opens—a clause pregnant with the most momentous results to us Gentiles; and these results are all the more precious to us when we are assured that they flow not from the final rejection, hut only from the temporary setting aside of the nation of Israel. Such is the distinct teaching of the apostle, in Romans xi., "I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them he the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. [How deeply touching!] For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?.... For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits (the very thing winch Christendom has become); that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in* And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." Romans xi. 11-27.
(* The reader will distinguish between " The fullness of the Gentiles," and " The times of the Gentiles." (Luke 21:2424And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (Luke 21:24).) The former refers to the gathering out from among the Gentiles for blessing; the latter, on the contrary, refers to the closing up of their history in judgment—the history of those four great empires spoken of by Daniel the prophet. It is well to weigh this distinction.)
Having said thus much to show the true dispensational position of our subject, we shall proceed, in dependence upon divine guidance, to unfold and apply it, in an entirely evangelistic way, to the souls of our readers, In so doing, we shall notice three distinct questions arising out of our brief but comprehensive text, namely, first, What is sent? Secondly, Who sends it? Thirdly, To whom is it sent? And first, then,
Salvation! Precious word! Well may we call upon the reader to consider it. Looked at in its full, broad, evangelical sense, as presented by the apostle, in the passage before us, it comprehends all the rich blessings secured to us, sinners of the Gentiles, in the gospel of the grace of God. It reaches from the very heart of God down to the lowest point in our condition; and it lifts us completely out of our guilt and ruin, and places us before God, in the full results of Christ's accomplished redemption. It secures to us, at the very outset, the full and final remission of all our sins; the perfect obliteration of all our guilt; entire deliverance from all wrath and judgment to come; and it introduces us into the unclouded favor of God. It secures to us, not only deliverance from the just consequences of our sins, but from the present dominion of sin, as a ruling principle. It secures to us " wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." In short," The salvation of God" includes, within its blessed compass, all we can possibly want for time and eternity; and not only so, but all that was in the heart of God to bestow.
A passage or two of scripture will serve to illustrate the force of the expression, " salvation of God." In Exod. 14 we find Israel in great pressure. They were surrounded on all sides by difficulties, to them perfectly insuperable. The sea was before them; the mountains around them; Pharaoh's hosts behind them. They were " shut up," in every way. It was a hopeless case so far as they were concerned. But this was just the fitting occasion in the which to enter into the full meaning of " The salvation of God." If there were a single ray—the faintest glimmer of human hope, that ray—that glimmer could only be, so far, a hindrance to the shining forth, in undimmed luster, of God's salvation. But the case was desperate, and hence they were in a position to understand and appreciate those precious words of Moses, " Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord."
Thus it is ever. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." It is when all is lost that we can really understand the meaning of salvation. If we have the weight of a feather or the breadth of a hair to lean on or cling to, in the shape of creature confidence, human hope, or earthly expectation, we have only just so much in the way of hindrance to our seeing the clear light of God's salvation.
But let us take another case. Turn, for a moment, to 2 Chron. 20 Here we see Jehoshaphat surrounded with overwhelming difficulties, in the presence of which he is constrained to own that he had no might. What was the word to him? Just the same as it had been to Israel, Μ Exod. 14 " Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord." It needed no might, no knowledge, to " stand still, and see." When a Savior God is moving before us, our proper attitude is to stand still—our suited action, to gaze and worship. All we really want is to come to the end of self and its busy doings, in order that God may fill the vision of the soul, and the beams of His salvation gladden and light up the heart.
This is the deep and precious secret of peace and blessing, at all times, and in all conditions. Would we be truly happy in God's salvation? Then let us cease from our own restless efforts and rest in what He has done for us. It is when we are really brought to cry out, from the very depths of the soul, "no might," that the divine response falls with clearness and power on the ear, " stand still, and see the salvation of God."
Take one more case. Look at Jonah. See him with the weeds wrapped about Ms head—see him in the very belly of hell: all hope gone; no human hand to reach him; and all this, be it remembered, the fruit of his disobedience. Yet what does he say? What are the accents that reach us from those profound and awful depths? " Salvation is of the Lord!" Precious words! It matters not what the difficulties may be, or how far gone we may be in our ruin and wretchedness, it still holds good that " salvation is of the Lord." Jonah's history furnishes a vivid illustration of this. He brought all the trouble and sorrow on himself. If he had not been willful, if he had yielded himself to the will of his Lord, if he had run in the way of His commandments, he never would have found himself in the whale's belly. But alas! as we so often do, he chose his own way, and he found himself in consequence plunged in the very depths of distress. Still God will be God, spite of all our willfulness and folly; and the very moment Jonah gave utterance to that brief sentence, " Salvation is of the Lord," we are told that "The Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."
The foregoing examples, drawn from the pages of Old Testament scripture, will suffice to illustrate to the reader, in some degree, the true force of the word " salvation." It is God's intervention, in grace and mercy, in man's behalf; it is deliverance wrought by God's own hand when all hope is gone. It is a word of marvelous fullness and completeness. It is, as we know, used in various ways, in scripture. For instance, the apostle exhorts the Philippians to " Work out their own salvation." Here the word is used in an inferior sense, and applies to the difficulties and dangers which surrounded those beloved saints. It cannot be taken in its high and broad sense, as applying to the eternal salvation of their souls, inasmuch as they were saved already, But there was much trial and pressure—they were surrounded by snares and temptations, and passing through a scene in which all was hostile; and, while the apostle was with them, they would naturally lean on him—on his wisdom and spiritual energy; but now, in his absence, he exhorts them to work out their own deliverance, assuring them, however, that it was God who worked in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
We have noticed the passage in Phil. 2:1212Wherefore, 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. (Philippians 2:12), because many find difficulty in it; but our present theme is salvation in the fullest, highest, and broadest sense in which it is presented in the word of God—salvation as in-eluding everything which a lost sinner can need—salvation stretching like a golden chain, from everlasting to everlasting, and every link in that chain is Christ—salvation overlapping the whole of our history, from first to last, meeting every exigency of our earthly path and conducting us safe to glory. In one word, it is " the salvation of God." This is enough. It is not merely a salvation in every way suited to us, but a salvation in every way worthy of God. It is not only that we are perfectly saved, but God is perfectly glorified.
And be it further noted, that when once the soul has laid hold of this salvation, it can never lose it—no, never. All the rage of hell, all the powers of earth, all the crafty malice of Satan, all the hostile influences that could be brought to bear, could not rob the saved soul of God's Salvation. Oh! no, reader, let no one persuade you to think that a divinely saved soul can ever be lost. This would be a gross dishonor to God. It would tarnish His glory if one whom he has saved could ever perish. Could we admit, for a moment, the horrible thought, that God would, or could, send a defective salvation to the Gentiles? Impossible! Grant me but this, that God has sent me salvation, and I argue, with holy boldness, that it must be a perfect and an everlasting salvation.
(To be concluded in our next, if the Lord will.)