A failure to clearly discern the distinction between, first: the sacrifice which Jesus gave for our sins, on account of which we have been granted repentance and remission of sins, and second, the sacrifice we have been called to make with Christ as sharers of his sufferings and to fit us to share his glory, has been the source of much confusion of thought.
In consequence, some preach: It is ALL grace, we can do nothing; God through Christ does all. These would quote in proof, “By grace are ye saved through faith and that [grace] not [because of any merit] of yourselves-it is the gift of God,”–“not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:9.) Others declare: It is grace truly, but unless you do work in harmony with it, you never will be saved. It is written, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice,” and “work out your own salvation.” (Rom 12:1 and Phil 2:12)
The party which mixes works and faith gradually comes to regard faith as of little value, and works as all important, and detracts from the value of the sacrifice which Jesus gave, while adding to the importance of the sacrifice of the sinner, or as they term it the sinner’s death to sin, as the means or cost of his own salvation.
The party, which depends wholly on faith, generally inclines to an opposite extreme and ignores the possibility of any fallen being doing works acceptable to God. In their endeavor to show that Jesus fully and amply “paid it all,” these frequently assert that the penalty of sin was eternal torture, and that Jesus endured as much suffering in a few hours in Gethsemane’s garden as all mankind would have suffered in an eternity of torture.
Each of these parties is without argument when confronted with the Scriptures of the opposite party, and without denying or disproving the texts in opposition, each quotes the texts and teaches the view which seems most approved to it; while the infidel sits there and sneers– “Your bible contradicts itself.”
There is a difficulty somewhere– what is it?
It is this: The doctrines of Election and Free-grace, both are true; both are supported by Scripture, and the difficulty has been a failure to note the two ages to which the two doctrines apply (i.e. a failure of “rightly dividing the word of God” into its proper times and seasons) an election according to favor during the Gospel age, and Free and complete favor to all during the Millennial age.
So also the doctrines of Faith and Works–BELIEF as a ground of salvation, and SACRIFICE as a ground of salvation. Both are true: When we rightly divide the word of truth, its beauty and harmony is manifested. As in the doctrine of Election, the harmony is seen by observing the two ages, so with this doctrine, the beauty and force can only be distinguished by recognizing TWO SALVATIONS.
Does someone hastily say: I cannot believe that; the Scriptures teach of two salvations? We reply: How do you know? Have you searched the Scriptures with that in view, to see? We can show clearly that the Bible does indeed teach TWO KINDS OF SALVATION and two totally different classes of saved.
The First or Common Salvation
First, then: There is a general salvation common to the entire Adamic race. Adam, the representative of the race, through sin lost the perfection of manhood with all its privileges; the result being death– extinction-not only for himself but for all springing from him and represented by him–“and so death passed upon all men.” Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. If his mission is to be successful it must result sooner or later in the recovery and restoration of all that which was lost.
Since Adam was not a spiritual but human image of God, he lost not a spiritual existence, but a human
existence. He lost not a heavenly home, but an earthly paradise. He did not even lose heavenly promises, for none such were given him. Since we all sustained our loss through Adam, ours like his must have been a loss of human perfection, human existence, human likeness to God, an earthly Paradise, etc.; hence Jesus’ mission was to redeem-save– recover –restore “that which was lost.” He commenced the work, by ransoming the race [giving a “corresponding price“]; and the Apostle assures us that he will complete the work of saving that which was lost–“When the times of refreshing [making new] shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ…whom the heavens must receive [retain] until the times of RESTITUTION [or restoration] of ALL THINGS which God hath spoken, by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21)
Thus seen, the ransom given by Jesus and the results to be obtained is the exact offset to the sin of Adam and the loss thus sustained.
This salvation comes to all men just as freely through Jesus as the loss came unsought through Adam. As now death is upon all, so in the restitution, life shall pass upon all, and as a result, all will begin to improve and to come into full perfection of manhood, which condition when reached may be everlastingly theirs on condition of everlasting obedience to God.
“Therefore as by the offense (the sin) of one, (man, Adam) judgment (the sentence) came upon all men (extensively) to condemnation (or death, the wages of sin); even so by the righteousness (the sacrifice) of one, (man, the Man Christ Jesus) the free gift (the sentence, the releasing of the captives, i.e. Salvation) came upon all men (co-extensively) unto justification of life.” Rom 5:18
This then is the general salvation-the “COMMON SALVATION“ (Jude 3) in which all shall share, because Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man; because “the man Christ Jesus” “gave himself a ransom [corresponding price] for all, to be testified in due time.” This salvation is the saving of man from sin and death to holiness and life; but it in no sense changes his nature; he will still be man and while of the earth earthly, when saved or restored, will again be an earthly image of God, and “very good“–the lord of earth restored to his dominion– recovered from his “fall.” (R741)
In our next post we will take a look at the Second Salvation.