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a life-time, He placed Himself under its authority.* Without guilt of His own, He took upon Himself the guilt of others, and paid their penalty by His own death ;t and, as to punishment, the law has no more to demand from them for ever. I Thus His death was an atoning death : real death as far as His human nature was concerned, and death of infinite value to others because of His divine nature.
That obedience and this death of Christ have actually taken place; Christ's resurrection from the dead and purchased immortality have actually been given to Him. And thus the resurrection and immortality of believers, or, in one word, their salvation, is rightfully and unquestionably sure, though it has not actually taken place.
A right created by God, promised by God, and kept in the hands of God, is as certain as actual possession. Observe this, my brethren ; because it is a human statement of this scriptural truth which often, through our proneness
* Gal. iv. 4; v. 3.
+ 1 Pet. ii. 22, 24, Gal. iii. 13; Rom. viii. 33, 34. § 1 Cor. xv. 20, 21; 1 Thess. iv. 14; Rom. vi. 5.
to make mistakes, confuses the “ right to salvation" with salvation itself. Such a mistake confines our attention to the purchasemoney, to the title-deeds, and to the covenantright, instead of requiring us to examine the property itself,*-the kind of blessings, the manner of life, the privileges with the corresponding tastes, the occupations with the necessary fitness, all which belong to that eternal life which God engages to give. We cannot value eternal life unless we value these things ; we cannot have eternal life unless we have these things in some measure.
The word “salvation " is used in its own proper sense when the Apostle said to believers, “Our salvation is nearer than when we believed.” Our salvation, i.e. our actual possession of eternal life, our complete freedom from sin in the heavenly state-is everyday nearer than it was when you and I first believed on the Lord Jesus. In this sense the apostle speaks of the Thessalonian Christians, not as having salvation, but as appointed to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ.t What believers actually now have * 2 Pet. iii. 13; 1 John, iii. 2, 3. + 1 Thess. v. 9.
is peace with God, and the promise of salvation. They are justified in God's sight by faith, i.e. the law cannot successfully demand their condemnation, because God looks upon them as legally just or righteous. Actual salvation is made sure to them, but it is still future ; they have the right to it, therefore they shall have it. This is the sum of Paul's conclusion in the epistle to the Romans, chap. v. 10, 11. Being now justified, we SHALL BE saved; being now reconciled, we SHALL BE saved. The right is thus kept distinct from that to which the right entitles us; although, from the assurance which a right from God contains in the very title, salvation itself is sometimes spoken of as virtually possessed, because so securely promised. For instance, “Jesus who delivered us from the wrath to come,"* " who hath saved us and called us with a holy calling.”+
this head thus. You must make sure work of your right to salvation. The right to salvation is the thing first to be attended to. It has been wrought out by Christ; you must have hold of it, and then * 1 Thess. i. 10.
+ 2 Tim. i. 9.
I sum up
“ work out your own salvation.” So that although the first thing, it is not the only thing to be attended to. For you must consider,
III. The work which your own salvation must give you, when you have obtained a right to it.
The precept of my text flows from the previous statement, “ To you it is given in the behalf of Christ .. to believe on Him."*
The Philippian Christians are called upon for the working of the renewed will, and the new life. There is much remaining corruption in the will, and faultiness in the deed; it is but a slight movement towards freedom from sin, and liberty in God's service, which our hearts and hands can attain to. Yet he who is in covenant with God, and in possession of Christ's right to salvation, now enters into the gradual possession of his rights and privileges by humbly, prayerfully, and believingly endeavouring to will and to do of God's good pleasure, however imperfectly; while, at the same time, God in covenant engages to carry on this work. He who said, “I will put my laws in their minds, and write them in their hearts,” has repeated here the same promise in different words,—“It is I myself who work in you, both to will and to do of my good pleasure :" therefore, work out your own salvation.
* Phil. i. 29.
My text is suited to those who are in the sure way of progress towards eternal perfection. It reminds them that not only the title-deeds, but also the essence of salvation, must be realised on this side of death the title altogether the substance, only in some measure. Jesus said, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life."*
SALVATION, in the command, • Work out your own salvation," means the heavenly security, and the heavenly work of the redeemed begun upon earth. Christ having been employed as your Redeemer, your mediator, and your substitute, the question of merit, or claims, or title-deeds is supposed to be settled. I do not say that you never again are to think of the question of acceptance with God; yet it is assumed in my text that you have agreed that
* John, v. 24.