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Full Salvation

Cross carved on a white stone wall


by Brother Carl Birt

Salvation is without doubt the grandest subject ever considered. Yet today, so few really comprehend its meaning or the depth of it. 

The majority of Americans in the 1950s attended church regularly. They were faithful for Sunday morning and evening services as well as the midweek prayer service. They read their Bibles. The population back then had a general sense of right and wrong. Schools and colleges were well ordered and served up a daily diet of discipline.

As a result, they turned out a class of people who could shoulder responsibility. They held down jobs and were active in civic duties. They respected the flag and law and order. There was prayer in schools, and the Bible was not a neglected book.

What a change we have seen! It seems as though things have happened in our world and nation so quickly. But the truth is, the seeds of what we are seeing today were sown in that generation. And with each succeeding generation, wickedness has only increased more and more. 

Churches today are closing in record numbers. There is a great disconnect between the generation of today and that of our grandparents. The generation of today feels no need. COVID closed many church doors, and a great number of them have stayed closed. Religious education has been abandoned. In the early 1970s, 90% of the U.S. population claimed to be Christian. By 2021, it had dwindled to just above 60%.

Young people today are reaching adulthood with no concept of God or what truth is. We sing the song, “I know in my heart what it means, salvation, that word so divine….” But do we really know? It is one thing to know in our heads and quite another to have a heart experience—to know in our hearts its meaning. 

In the Church of God, we often employ terms derived from the Bible that are more than just theory. They describe and sum up spiritual truths. It used to be people who came out of the world would have some idea of their meanings. It can become easy for us to take their meanings for granted.

So, what do the words “saved” and “salvation” mean to you? If you were to ask people today whether or not they are saved, you may get one of the following replies: 

I hope so. …I was baptized. …I became a Christian. …I am a member of the church. …I don’t think you can really know in this life; we just have to do the best we can. 

But none of these answers will suffice. They cannot stand up to the test of the scriptures. To gain a better understanding of what is meant by being saved or of salvation, let us first look at a few definitions. Save: to rescue from danger or possible harm, injury or loss. Example: to save someone from drowning. That is one such definition given by a dictionary. In this instance, the word “save” is a verb and implies action. The word “salvation” is a noun and is defined as the state of being saved or protected from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.; Theology: deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption. 

When Peter went walking on the water to go to Jesus and looked and saw the wind and the waves, he began to sink. Quickly, he called out, “Lord, save me!” In this case, Peter needed to be saved in a very literal sense. He needed to be rescued from present danger and harm. Christ reached down and, with His strong arm, grasped Peter by the hand and pulled him up. Peter could not pull himself out of the angry waves. Christ did for him what he himself could not do. Note, however, that Peter had to do his part and reach up. He would have sunk like a stone had he ignored Christ’s offered hand.

It is in this sense that we are saved. Peter was saved from drowning. Christ pulled Peter up to a higher plane. Instead of being in or under the water, he was lifted to walk above it. Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Christ did not come to save people in but rather from their sins. There is a big difference. Can you picture Jesus looking down on Peter and saying to him, “Just do the best you can Peter? God understands.” You might think that is ridiculous. You are right! And so is the idea of people being saved and yet continuing to live in sin. 

Salvation in the Hebrew and Greek is defined as deliverance. So, save or saved, as well as the word salvation, both describe God’s saving grace extended to man. As Peter had a real need in the physical sense that only Christ could supply, so too salvation addresses a real spiritual need in the heart of man. 

Christ did not come to earth to make people religious. People were already religious. The ancient world at that time was filled with religion. Man has needs that only the blood of Christ can address. This is what sets the Church of God apart from all other religions. Let us look at what these needs are.

Genesis 2:15-17, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” 

Here we have the divine record of the first pair: Adam and Eve. God placed man in the garden and gave him a job. Adam had responsibilities, but he also enjoyed a great deal of liberty and freedom. They could eat of any tree in the garden except for one: the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God said, “…in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Genesis 3:1-12, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

Here we have the record of the first sin. Eve was tempted through her reasoning. And when she “…saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, …” and they died spiritually.

Something happens when sin is committed. There is a death—a separation. Just as when someone dies, the soul is separated from the body, so too, sin brings spiritual death to the soul. The soul is separated from its creator: God. God said, “in the day,” or at that very moment, “thou shalt surely die.” Adam went on to live a very long life, but he died spiritually the moment he sinned.

Isaiah 59:1-2, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” 

Adam’s sin plunged the whole human race into sin. Genesis 5:1-3, “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.” Something happened here. Adam was created in the image and likeness of God. God is holy and pure, and Adam was originally created in the same holy image. But notice in verse 3 that Adam begat a son, but he was not in that same image and likeness. Seth was born in Adam’s likeness and image. 

There is something that is passed down from one generation to the next. Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” All have sinned because they all possess something that was passed down to us from Adam.

Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” King David said, “I was shapen in iniquity.” The word “shapen” in the Hebrew means twisted. “And in sin did my mother conceive me.” David was not saying he was born out of wedlock. He was not saying his mother was loose. He was making the point that something had been passed down to him. David’s nature was shapen or twisted at birth. Everyone born into this world is shapen or twisted in iniquity or sin. There is a natural bent or tendency to sin. 

Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” Why is it that we have to teach our children to be good? It is just natural for children to be bad. Put a group of little children in a room by themselves with no adults, and it will not be long until there is utter chaos and anarchy.

Occasionally the song is sung, “Praise the Lord for full salvation. God still lives upon His throne. And I know the blood still reaches deeper than the stain has gone.” Likewise, we sing the hymn, “I Am Fully Saved Today.” While the terms “full salvation” and “fully saved” are not found in the Bible, yet they are definitely scriptural. But what do they mean? What is implied by putting a difference between being saved and being fully saved? 

Because of Adam’s fall, mankind has not one but two distinct needs. Sin exists in two forms. The plan of salvation was in the mind of God from the foundation of the world. Man needs salvation—full salvation—because he is in need of deliverance from both forms of sin. There are committed sins and there is inherited sin. Man is in need of full salvation: salvation from committed sins and salvation from inherited sin. This is what is summed up in the term redemption. Redemption is the repurchase, or buying back, of a soul’s true value. Man was created holy and in the image of God. Full salvation is the restoration or redemption of man to that same holy state.

Committed sins are acts of sin you were personally responsible for. We felt guilt and condemnation for those things. We were ashamed of our sinful deeds. Conviction is the call of God through the Spirit of God to the lost soul. Under conviction for sin, we came to the knowledge that we were not saved. We realized our lost condition. Conviction was not a pleasant experience. But in reality, we were so blessed to receive that call. 

Being lost in sin, we were in desperate need of being saved. Sin had only brought misery and hopelessness. Sin brings a reaping. Sin brings bondage and enslavement of the will. At this point, man is in need of being saved or delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin. But that is not enough; man also needs to be saved from the ruling power of sin. 

Romans 6:11-14, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

Salvation from committed sins gives us peace with God. Our record of sins is canceled. Before, we had no hope; now we have a lively hope through the new birth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 becomes a reality to us. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 

Other terms associated with this are justification, the new birth, forgiveness, pardon and regeneration. Each of these has meaning and describes a feature of the first work of grace. 

Man also needs salvation from inherited sin. This second form of sin is not one in which you had any choice. What I mean by that is, it was not something you did or committed. It was not any one deed or the summation of them. Rather, it involves the nature of man or the underlying cause that propels every soul into a career of sin. Adam was created in the image and likeness of God. This was not a physical likeness, but a moral and spiritual one. God was holy, and He created man in that same image. The attributes Adam possessed were both human and divine in nature. But when Adam transgressed, his nature was altered. 

Ephesians 2:2-3, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” This nature is what causes a child to steal and lie. This nature goes by the names “the old man,” “the flesh,” “carnality” and “adamic nature.” This nature remains in the hearts of the justified. The disciples were saved before Pentecost but were prone to pride, jealousy and envy. 

1 Corinthians 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” Paul addressed the saints at Corinth as being “yet carnal.” The implication was that they should be spiritual instead. 

If let go, a carnal person will return to sin. That is why sanctification, or full salvation, is needed. Romans 8:6-7, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

Sanctification is not infallibility. It is not absolute perfection. You will still be human and make mistakes and misjudgments. Sanctification is the removal and eradication of carnality. It paves the way for one to further grow in grace. Sanctification does not make it impossible to fall from grace. It is merely redemption. The Baptist philosophy of “once saved, always saved” is unscriptural. True eternal security means that, once saved, you must stay saved. Sanctification is the crossing of Jordan and possessing Canaan. In Canaan, there were battles and giants to fight. But there are greater victories to be enjoyed.

Sanctification is both the purifying of the heart and the reception of the Holy Spirit. Acts 15:8-9, “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

Sanctification is the leading term associated with the second work of grace. Other terms include “baptism of the Holy Ghost” and “perfection.” As we mentioned before, sanctification does not make one perfect in the sense of infallibility but rather in the sense of completion. That is why we call it “full salvation.” It is redemption at its fullest. Hebrews 7:25, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” The word uttermost in Greek means full, entire, complete, perfectly and utterly.

Sanctification is part of the plan of salvation. Jesus prayed for His followers to receive it. John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Verse 20, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” This extends to you and me. It is Jesus’ will, and it is God’s will. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour.”

Full salvation: being saved from sin and sanctified wholly or entirely will keep you and preserve you in this old world of sin. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

Are you fully saved today?

Podcast expires on Sunday September 8th, 2024