The Special or Great Salvation
“Let us now take a glance at the other salvation; the special one called in Scripture, “THE salvation,” “YOUR salvation,” “OUR salvation,” “so GREAT salvation,” and etc. (Luke 3:6; Eph 1:13; Phil 2:12; Rom 13:11; Heb 2:3; 1 Pet 1:10). Like the other, this salvation is also from sin and death, but it includes a change of nature, so that the life enjoyed when this salvation is fully accomplished will be not a restoration of human nature, but a transforming to the “divine nature,” no longer earthly beings, but heavenly or spiritual beings. The Scriptural evidences on which a hope for this special salvation is based should be familiar to all true Bible Students; the call to this hope is mentioned as a “high calling,” a “heavenly calling,” etc.
“This GREAT SALVATION” must take place first, before the “COMMON SALVATION“ shall be accomplished, for those who experience the “great salvation” are to be God’s instrumentalities through whom the “common salvation” shall be bestowed upon all the world of mankind. They without us shall not be made perfect. (Heb 11:40.) These who share in “so great salvation” are but a “little flock” and in it are not many rich or great or noble according to the course of this world, for to this salvation God hath chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, heirs of the kingdom. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea and things which are naught, to bring to naught things that are.” (1 Cor 1:28)
The Apostle speaks of the two salvations in the same sentence, when he says,
“We trust in the living God who is the savior of all men, [but especially] of those that believe.” (1 Tim 4:10)
As these two salvations differ, so do the conditions differ. The only conditions for the common salvation are recognition of Jesus who bought us with his own precious blood and an acceptance of the salvation provided (believe and accept) coupled with their best endeavors to abstain from sin. No works must be here added to the work of the Redeemer to merit this recovery of that which was lost.
“In our hands no price we bring, Simply to His cross we cling.”
Those who will share in the “great salvation” and be “especially” saved to heavenly conditions must first share by faith in the common salvation. These during the Gospel Age have accepted Jesus and his atoning sacrifice as the ground and substance of restored rights and privileges as men, not getting that restoration to perfect manhood actually, as the world will during the Millennium, but accepting it now by faith it is to such, a reckoned perfection; an imputed justification, a reckoned recovery from all that was lost to all that human perfection and blessing which Jesus’ ransom [corresponding price] recovered for all. But if such would accept of the “heavenly calling,” they must do more than thus believe and accept. They are believers and are already subjects of this common salvation from death and sin, before they are called to run for the heavenly prize.
The Apostle forcibly impresses this when he says: “I beseech you brethren [those already believers in Jesus as their Savior, already reckoned, restored or justified through faith, hence called brethren] that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice unto God.” (Rom 12:1)
This proves that sacrificing is not the condition of becoming brethren (i.e. Members of the “Household of Faith”), for these were brethren of who as yet, had not yet presented themselves as joint sacrifices with their Lord. Thus all who are freed from sin are not only prospective children of God, but are all brethren whether they are of the human nature, tentatively justified through faith, (belief), or like the Apostle begotten by the Holy Spirit (actually justified), thus obtaining a change of nature, members of the “Church of the Firstborn”. Eventually the earthly and the heavenly when complete and perfect will be all one family, as there is one God and Father of all.
Then as though anticipating an objection from these brethren, that they were unworthy to be sacrifices since all sacrifices must be pure and holy (i.e. fully justified) else they could not be acceptable to God, the Apostle answers this objection by reminding them of their tentative justification and reckoned purity on account of Jesus’ sacrifice, and assures them that being thus, upon a full surrender, consecration, they would be fully justified from all things, and thereby their sacrifices would be “holy” and “acceptable to God” as well as a “reasonable service” for them.
This “service” of “sacrifice” after having been justified from sin and death by Jesus’ ransom alone, is the condition upon which any shall be “accounted worthy” of the heavenly prize, the great salvation. Only upon the condition of sacrificing with the Master, sharing in and filling up of that sacrifice for the world, are any promised a part in that “little flock” which shall share Jesus’ resurrection [the same sort] because they share his sacrifice.
This is the salvation which can only be obtained by sacrifice—by “working out your own salvation” and the dissimilarity of this, from the salvation which no man can work out for himself, but which was purchased by the precious blood of Jesus, and which must be accepted by all as the free gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord should be apparent to all critical students.
And when this distinction is recognized all those Scriptures which before seemed contradictory on the subject of salvation by faith and salvation by works, become beautifully harmonious and clear.
But, some may inquire: Do you then claim and teach that those who gain heaven and become members of the little flock and share in divine nature and honors will gain them by their own works simply? That they will merit such high honors? Most emphatically NO! Do not misunderstand us thus.
Grace first contrived the way
To save rebellious man,
In every step ’tis still displayed
Throughout God’s wondrous plan.”
The recovery of man from sin and death was God’s favor through the sacrifice of his Son. Restitution to his “former estate” was not merited, hence was the manifestation of God’s grace or favor. So the offering to some of the redeemed race of the infinite “prize” in exchange for the human rights and privileges, which he himself had just presented to us freely through Jesus, is but a further manifestation of the grace of God. We DO NOT by any works or sacrifices MERIT an exaltation to the divine nature and glory–“far above angels and principalities and powers” as joint heirs with Jesus. And not only so, but we never could have dreamed of such an offer being made us! It is simply astounding to us; to many this “exceeding riches of his grace in his loving kindness toward us in Christ Jesus,” is wholly inconceivable, and unbelievable. But those who believe the offer and give their little all, [justified lives, human nature—saved through Christ] in exchange for a prize so great, can only say:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.”
This “great salvation” is to be to all eternity the great monument of God’s grace by which all his creatures angelic as well as human, shall have indubitable proof that God’s grace is boundless, and his love and wisdom and power by which he is able to cause all things to work together for good to those who love and serve him are unfathomable.” (R741)