(Read Part 1)
When we think about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the world, we are instantly forced to travel the road north from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. There, we can stand and gaze through tears of both sorrow and joy at a lonely hill called Calvary. There, with the eyes of faith, we see Jesus not as the eternal child in the arms of His mother, but as the Christ of Calvary. A moment’s thought about what happened there (and we should think about this every day) reminds us that the essence of our faith centers around the Lord of history and what He did for us on that cross.
In the hymn “Rock of Ages,” the songwriter Augustus Toplady suggested that there was a “double cure” available from “the wounded side” of Jesus Christ. Actually, however, the work of Christ on the cross produces “the triple cure” in which we may rejoice.
The first cure, the first aspect of the salvation purchased for us on Calvary, is that we indeed “shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9). The eternal penalty of sin is hell and then the lake of fire. The temporal penalty of sin is the wrath of God which will be especially poured out upon the world during the days of the tribulation. From these penalties, we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. When I believe the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I am instantly and eternally saved from the wrath of God. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Salvation from Divine wrath is immediate and eternal when I believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross, trusting Him as my Savior.
The writer of the old hymn also prays, “Make me pure.” This reminds us of the second aspect of salvation, the second cure, in that I am saved not only from the penalty but also from the power of sin. To every Christian the Bible says,
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Rom. 6:14)
Knowing Christ saves us, therefore, from the legal dominion of sin over our lives.
In the matter of Christian purity, we must be careful to remember that salvation from the active involvement of sin in our lives is, first of all, progressive. It also demands that our wills be exercised in cooperation with the will of God. Salvation from the power of sin is built on Christian determination and action.
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 7:1)
The progressive perfection of the life of a Christian is a very wonderful thing. It must be intensely practiced by each of us every day that we live. Alas, the lack of pursuit of a holy life has damaged too many Christians and too many Christian leaders in our time. The second cure—the pursuit of holiness—produces progressive sanctification and great spiritual capability.
When thinking of this, we happily announce that there is a third cure, a third aspect of salvation. We are saved from the penalty of sin by the death of Christ. We are saved from the power of sin by the life of Christ. One day, however, we shall be saved from the very presence of sin, and that by our departure to be with Christ or Christ returning for us. At the moment of this translation, we shall see fulfilled the hope that
. . . all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved, to sin no more.
In heaven, we shall be free from all temptation and all spiritual subversion. Being reminded of this, each one of us looks up with bright anticipation to that glorious day when Christ shall return. He shall return, first of all, to take us home on the occasion of the rapture of the church. Then, He shall return “with all His saints” (1 Thess. 3:13) in power and great glory. At that time, we shall be part of that army which conquers the world, the Antichrist, and the Devil himself.
What a day that will be! Yes, there is coming a time when the world will be past, thrown away like an old, worn-out garment, and God will bring to pass “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1). In that marvelous paradise of God, we will “rest from (our) labors” (Rev. 14:13), we will be reunited with loved ones who have gone before, and we shall be with Jesus Christ. There, we will experience the fullness of the promise of “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).
From the vantage point of heaven, we will also look back at the things of earth and rejoice in the triple cure. No one of us will ever forget the day when salvation delivered us from the eternal penalty of sin and then progressively worked that we might be delivered from the power of sin. This, we then shall recall, made possible our giant step from earth to heaven in which time we were delivered from the very presence of sin. In heaven, we will be in the place of “no more death, nor sorrow . . . no more pain” (Rev. 21:4), no more insoluble problems, but rather, we will fully possess “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) and be in His living presence. Daily, we will rejoice because on Calvary’s cross Jesus Christ made it all possible. There He produced for us the triple cure.
Even in these days, we rejoice because every person on earth is invited to go to heaven one day by believing in Jesus Christ. The greatest gift which God ever gave to man was purchased for all men when Jesus died that sinners might live. What is that greatest gift? It is the gift of God which is eternal life (cf. Rom. 6:23). Not one who receives that gift will ever perish, but will rejoice forever in what Christ has done for him at Calvary.
Finally, we should mention that one of the sources of confusion among Christians in our time is a lack of understanding of the three aspects of salvation. Through insufficient attention to the Bible, many do not recognize that there is a difference between being saved from the penalty of sin and being saved from the power of sin. In fact, many are totally saved from the penalty of sin but as yet, only partially delivered from the power of sin. In fact, when we think about it, we realize that this is true about every Christian. It is, therefore, presumptuous to insist that, because a person is a Christian, he will live a perfect life. When we accept Christ, we are perfectly saved from the penalty of sin. This because our standing before God is positional—dependent upon not personal but imputed righteousness.
At the same time, we are being saved or are imperfectly saved from the practice and the power of sin. This because salvation from sin’s power is not a matter of imputation from God but, rather, it is moral achievement on our part. The degree of moral achievement is different with each Christian and less than perfect in every Christian, including the Apostle Paul. He said,
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected. (Phil. 3:12)
The Christian who does not understand this will be subject to many a confusion and the assurance of salvation will always escape him. He risks slipping into the easy subversions of Lordship Salvation, thereby becoming further confused.
The difference between imputed righteousness and personal righteousness is important to understand. It is one of the paramount truths of Christianity and the confidence which is often called victorious Christian living.
Dr. Dave Breese (1926-2002) was an internationally known speaker, teacher and author. He founded the ministry of Christian Destiny in 1963, and through it proclaimed the gospel on weekly radio and television programs and in numerous books and booklets. In 1987, he also became the president and Bible teacher on The King Is Coming telecast, a role that he filled until his death in 2002. Other organizations that Dr. Breese served during his distinguished ministry career included Youth For Christ, Awana, Back to the Bible, National Religious Broadcasters and National Association of Evangelicals. A frequent conference speaker and a master at explaining the relevance of Bible prophecy, he was also known for his wisdom and wit. It is a great honor to include him as part of the inaugural class of Revived Classics authors for Dispensational Publishing House.
This article originally appeared in the December 2000 issue of Destiny Bulletin.
Copyright © 2000 Christian Destiny, Inc. All rights reserved.
The article is reprinted here by permission of Christian Destiny.
For more information regarding Christian Destiny, go to www.ChristianDestiny.org.
Other material copyright © 2016 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This article was first featured on December 16, 2016.