Adapted From A. W. Pink’s, A Fourfold Salvation
Before Christ came into my life I didn’t really have a clear understanding of what the word “salvation” meant. I had heard of the “Salvation Army,” and recalled seeing or hearing the term in religious literature or programming, but couldn’t define what it meant if you asked me.
As Father God drew me to Lord Jesus I learned that salvation means deliverance from sin and its consequences, through faith in Christ. John 3:16-17 say, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
A.W. Pink, a believer in Christ and well-known writer and pastor in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, penned a message titled, A Fourfold Salvation. In it, he describes four ways we are saved from sin, with corresponding Scripture references.
1. We are saved from the Pleasure of Sin
It is here that God begins His actual application of salvation unto His elect. God saves us from the pleasure or love of sin before He delivers us from the penalty or punishment of sin. Necessarily so, for it would be neither an act of holiness nor of righteousness were He to grant full pardon to one who was still a rebel against Him, loving that which He hates.
And how does God save His people from the pleasure of sin? The answer is, by imparting to them a nature which hates evil and loves holiness. This takes place when they are born again, so that actual salvation begins with regeneration. Fallen man can never perceive his desperate need of salvation nor come to Christ for it, till he has been renewed by the Holy Spirit.
John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
Ezekiel 36:26-27 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
John 3:5-7 “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
2. We are saved from the Penalty of Sin
This follows upon our regeneration which is evidenced by evangelical repentance and unfeigned faith. Every soul that truly puts his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is then and there saved from the penalty—the guilt, the wages, the punishment—of sin. When the apostle said to the penitent jailor, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” he signified that all his sins would be remitted by God; just as when the Lord said to the poor woman, “thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace (Luke 7:50).”
He meant that all her sins were now forgiven her, for forgiveness has to do with the criminality and punishment of sin. To the same effect when we read “by grace are ye saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8),” it is to be understood the Lord has actually “delivered us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).”
This aspect of our salvation is to be contemplated from two separate viewpoints: the Divine and the human. The Divine side of it is found in the mediatorial office and work of Christ, who as the Sponsor and Surety of His people, met the requirements of the law on their behalf, working out for them a perfect righteousness and enduring Himself the curse and condemnation which are due them, consummated at the Cross.
It was there that He was “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5).” It was there that judicially, “his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).” It was there that He was “smitten of God and afflicted” while He was making atonement for the offenses of His people.
Because Christ suffered in my stead, I go free; because He died, I live; because He was forsaken of God, I am reconciled to Him. This is the great marvel of grace, which will evoke ceaseless praise from the redeemed throughout eternity.
The human side of our salvation from the penalty of sin respects our repentance and faith. Though these possess no merits whatever, and though they in no sense purchase our pardon, yet according to the order which God has appointed, they are instrumentally essential, for salvation does not become ours experimentally until they are exercised.
Repentance is the hand releasing those filthy objects it had previously clung to so tenaciously; faith is extending an empty hand to God to receive His gift of grace. Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin; faith is receiving a sinner’s Savior. Repentance is a revulsion of the filth and pollution of sin; faith is a seeking of cleansing therefrom. Repentance is the sinner covering his mouth and crying, “Unclean, unclean!”; faith is the leper coming to Christ and saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Far from being meritorious graces, repentance and faith are self-emptying ones. The one who truly repents takes his place as a lost sinner before God, confessing himself to be a guilty wretch deserving naught but unsparing judgment at the hands of Divine justice.
Faith looks away from corrupt and ruined self, and views the amazing provision which God has made for such a Hell-deserving creature. Faith lays hold of the Son of God’s love, as a drowning man clutches at a passing spar. Faith surrenders to the Lordship of Christ, rests upon the merits and efficacy of His sacrifice, his sins are removed from God’s sight “as far as the east is from the west:” he is now eternally saved from the wrath to come.
3. We are saved from the Power of Sin
This is a present and protracted process, and is as yet incomplete. It is the most difficult part of our subject, and upon it the greatest confusion of thought prevails, especially among young Christians.
Many there are, who, having learned that the Lord Jesus is the Savior of sinners, have jumped to the erroneous conclusion that if they but exercise faith in Him, surrender to His Lordship, commit their souls into His keeping, He will remove their corrupt nature and destroy their evil propensities.
But after they have really trusted in Him, they discover that evil is still present with them, that their hearts are still “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” and that no matter how they strive to resist temptation, pray for overcoming grace, and use the means of God’s appointing, they seem to grow worse and worse instead of better, until they seriously doubt if they are saved at all.
Even when a person has been regenerated and justified, the flesh or corrupt nature remains within him, and ceaselessly harasses him. Yet this ought not to perplex him; to the saints at Rome Paul said, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body (Romans 6:12),” which would be entirely meaningless had sin been eradicated from them.
Writing to the Corinthian saints he said, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).” Obviously such an exhortation is needless if sin has been purged from our beings.
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:6).” What need have Christians for such a word as this, except pride lurks and works within them. But all room for controversy on this point is excluded if we bow to that inspired declaration, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).
The old carnal nature remains in the believer: he is still a sinner, though a saved one. What, then, is the young Christian to do? Is he powerless? Must he resort to stoicism, and make up his mind there is naught but a life of defeat before him? Certainly not! The first thing for him to do is to learn the humiliating truth that in himself he is “without strength.”
It was here that Israel failed: when Moses made known to them the Law they boastfully declared “all that the Lord has said, we will do, and be obedient (Exodus 24:7).” How little did they realize that “in the flesh there dwelleth no good thing.”
It was here, too, that Peter failed: he was self-confident and boasted that “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” —how little he knew his own heart. This complacent spirit lurks within each of us. While we cherish the belief we can “do better next time,” it is evident that we still have confidence in our own powers. Not until we heed the Savior’s words “apart from me you can do nothing” do we take the first step toward victory. Only when we are weak (in ourselves) are we strong.
The believer still has the carnal nature within him, and he has no strength in himself to check its evil propensities, nor to overcome its sinful solicitations. But the believer in Christ also has another nature within him which is received at the new birth: “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6).”
The believer, then, has two natures within him: one which is sinful, the other which is spiritual. Now which of these two natures is to regulate the believer’s life? It is manifest that both cannot, for they are contrary to each other. It is equally evident that the stronger of the two will exert the more controlling power. It is also clear that in the young Christian the carnal nature is the stronger, because he was born with it, and hence it has a head start of many years over the spiritual nature, which he did not receive until he was born again.
4. We are saved from the Presence of Sin
We now turn to that aspect of our subject which has to do solely with the future. Sin is yet to be completely eradicated from the believer’s being, so that he shall appear before God without any spot or blemish. True, this is his legal status even now, yet it has not become so in his state or experience. As God views the believer in Christ, he appears before Him in all the excellency of his Sponsor; yet to the believer, he beholds all the ruin which The Fall has wrought in him. But this will not always be the case: no, blessed be His name, the Lord is reserving the best wine for last. And even now we have tasted that He is gracious, but the fullness of His grace will only be entered into and enjoyed by us after this world is left behind.
1 Corinthians 2:9 “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.’”
Those Scriptures which present our salvation as a future prospect are all concerned with our final deliverance from the very inbeing of sin. To this Paul referred when he said, “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed (Romans 13:11)”—not our salvation from the pleasure, the penalty, or the power of sin, but from its very presence.
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).” Yes, it is the “Savior” we await, for it is at His return that the whole election of grace shall enter into their full salvation; as it is written, “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:28).”
In like manner, when another apostle declares, “We, by God’s power, are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5), he referenced the grand consummation of the believer’s salvation, when he shall be forever rid of the very presence of sin.
Our salvation from the pleasure of sin is effected by Christ’s taking up His abode in our hearts: “Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). Our salvation from the penalty of sin was secured by Christ’s sufferings on the cross, where He endured the punishment due our iniquities. Our salvation from the power of sin is obtained by the gracious operations of the Spirit which Christ sends to His people—therefore is He designated “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9, Galatians 4:6, Revelation 3:1).
Our salvation from the presence of sin will be accomplished at Christ’s second advent: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3:20-21).”
And again we are told, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).”
Salvation from the pleasure or love of sin takes place at our regeneration.
Salvation from the penalty or punishment of sin occurs at our justification.
Salvation from the power or dominion of sin is accomplished during our practical sanctification.
Salvation from the presence or inbeing of sin is consummated at our glorification.
“Whom lie justified, them He also glorified (Romans 8:30).”
The fourfold salvation from sin of the Christian was strikingly typified in God’s dealings with the nation of Israel of old.
First, we have a vivid portrayal of their deliverance from the pleasure or love of sin: “And the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning (Exodus 2:23-24).”
What a contrast does that present from what we read of in the closing chapters of Genesis! There we hear the king of Egypt saying to Joseph, “The land of Egypt is before thee: in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen (Genesis 47:6).” Accordingly we are told, “And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew and multiplied exceedingly (Genesis 47:27).”
Now Egypt is the OT symbol of the world, as a system opposed to God. It was there, in the “best of the land,” the descendants of Abraham had settled. But the Lord had designs of mercy and something far better for them: yet before they could appreciate Canaan they had to be weaned from Egypt. Hence we find them in cruel bondage there, smarting under the lash of the taskmasters. In this way they were made to loathe Egypt and long for deliverance therefrom.
The theme of Exodus is redemption: how striking, then, to see that God begins His work of redemption by making His people to groan and cry out under their bondage! The portion Christ bestows is not welcome till we are made sick of this world.
Second, in Exodus 12 we have a picture of God’s people being delivered from the penalty of sin. On the Passover night the angel of death came and slew all the firstborn of the Egyptians. But why spare the firstborn of the Israelites? Not because they were guiltless before God, for all had sinned and come short of His glory.
The Israelites, equally with the Egyptians, were guilty in His sight, and deserving of unsparing judgment. It was at this very point that the grace of God came in and met their need. Another was slain in their room and died in their stead. An innocent victim was killed and its blood shed, pointing to the coming of “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29).”
The head of each Israelite household sprinkled the lamb’s blood on the lintel and posts of his door, and hence the firstborn in it was spared from the avenging angel: God promised, “when I see the blood I will pass over you (Exodus 12:13).” Thus, Israel was saved from the penalty of sin by means of the lamb dying in their stead.
Third, Israel’s wilderness journey foreshadowed the believer’s salvation from the power of sin. Israel did not enter Canaan immediately upon their exodus from Egypt: they had to face the temptations and trials of the desert where they spent not less than forty years.
But what a gracious and full provision did God make for His people! Manna was given them daily from heaven—figure of that food which God’s Word now supplies for our spiritual nourishment. Water was given from the smitten rock—emblem of the Holy Spirit sent by the smitten Christ to dwell within us.
A cloud and a pillar of fire guided them by day and guarded them by night, reminding us of how God directs our steps and shields us from our foes. Best of all, Moses, their great leader, was with them, counseling, admonishing, and interceding for them—figure of the Captain of our salvation: “And surely I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).”
Fourth, the actual entrance of Israel into the promised land foreshadowed the believer’s glorification, when he enters into the full enjoyment of that possession which Christ has purchased for him.
The experiences Israel met with in Canaan have a double meaning. From one viewpoint they foreknew of the conflict which faith encounters while the believer is left upon earth, for as the Hebrews had to overcome the original inhabitants of Canaan before they could enjoy their portion, so faith has to surmount many obstacles if it is to “possess its possessions.”
Nevertheless, that land of milk and honey into which Israel entered after the bondage of Egypt and the hardships of the wilderness were left behind, was manifestly a figure of the Christian’s portion in Heaven after he is forever done with sin in this world.
“Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).”
First, save them from the pleasure or love of sin by bestowing a nature which hates it: this is the great miracle of grace.
Second, save them from the penalty or punishment of sin, by remitting all its guilt: this is the grand marvel of grace.
Third, save them from the power or dominion of sin, by the workings of His Spirit: this reveals the wondrous might of grace.
Fourth, save them from the presence or inbeing of sin: this will demonstrate the glorious magnitude of grace.