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Rom 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
I’ll admit it. I’m a morning person. I’m up before the sun. So, in a sense, this verse makes me smile since it says it’s “high time to wake up!” But I know it’s a lot more serious than that. But it’s still a wonderful, joyful truth being shared. It brings back that song I used to sing, “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory.” But it poses some questions too.
So let’s just say that I know I have things to do, whether I have to go to work or get up and prepare things for my family. Well, I realize what time it is and I realize that there are things that need to be done in order for me to reach my goal or the task ahead. I can’t just stay sleeping all day in bed. I’d lose my job because there would be noone there to complete my tasks. My family would wind up not having their needs met. It just wouldn’t work to sleep all day. And I know the time and the things ahead that I must accomplish. So I set a time that my alarm will go off and I make myself get up. It’s high time to wake up and shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, and get going.
And just like my physical life, I need to move upon my spiritual life. It’s very easy to think that once I have accepted You, Lord, as my Savior, I’m good to go. I can just lay back and take it easy because I’m covered. You get to do all the work now while I just go on with my life. But that’s not the case. Even moreso now, as a believer, I have a responsibility to be preparing and working toward the final goals You have set for me. The truth is- my salvation is not finished yet, it’s not over yet.
If I was saved yesterday, if I placed my actual trust in You as my Lord and Savior yesterday, yes, then I was saved. But the fact of the matter is that I am living in Your continual salvation, and I am still being saved. Paul says my salvation is “nearer” today then yesterday, when I first believed. What in the world does that mean?
Well, first I want to take a look back from the beginning of Chapter 13 to see what thoughts are leading up to this statement. And Paul is really honing in on the idea of submission to authority, even earthly authorities. And he takes it a step farther and equates submission with the idea of loving your neighbor which is the heart of God’s law. Remember the whole law can be summed up in two commands: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and strength and love your neighbor as you are loved by God. Paul enters our current verse with this thought, “therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Now just hold on to that, those two ideas, the one of submission and the other of love.
So what does that have to do with salvation? Isn’t it once saved, always saved? Well, biblically, salvation has a past, present, and future tense. It’s not a one time, that’s good, I’m finished and complete deal. Let’s look at 1 Peter. “You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy people by His Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be purified by His blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure.” Can you see it? We were chosen and saved unto God (past), we were made a holy people, justified (past). But we are to obey and be purified (present, continual) which is our sanctification. And this is all taking place while we look to the future with grace and peace in full measure.
If we continue to verse 3 we are told that we are continually filled with living hope which causes us to look forward to our future in Christ and with Christ. And our present obedience in giving thanks to God helps us to realize this. And on to verse 4 we see that there are things being held or kept for us in the future that we have not attained yet in the Lord. And verse 5 reminds us that our full salvation will not be realized until we are with the Lord, but we are continually kept through faith by His power in us.
Why is it important for me to know that salvation wasn’t just a one time deal? Why is it important for me to know that salvation is continual and I have a future final salvation to look forward to? Well, once I’m saved, does the life around me change? I mean, do the hard circumstances and difficulties and trials stop? Or are they ever changing? Am I not continually learning to rely on the Lord in situation after situation, moment by moment? Don’t I need Someone there who can repeatedly rescue me from the heaviness around me and the temptations that I am daily faced with? I know I do. And this is the God that You are.
First, we need to be saved unto You, God. You won’t protect fully what is not fully Yours. You can’t because it would be against Your nature. So You call us to You and You save us unto You and make us Your own and clothe us in Your righteousness just by Your grace and sacrifice. But is that all that salvation is? Is that what believing and trusting in You is all about? Is it about letting You save me and make me holy and then just going on with my life as I was? Is that salvation at all?
Absolutely not! I am not just saved by You, Jesus, I am saved unto You and in You and for You. So, first it’s not by any power that I have to save or do something that would warrant You granting me access to You. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells me, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” This is were I’m justified and adopted into God’s family. This is where Christ covers me in His righteousness solely due to the fact that I have trusted in Him and placed my life totally in His. But 1 Corinthians 1:18 takes it a step further “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” See, that initial power that raised Christ from the dead, raised us from the dead and gave us life in Christ- our initial salvation, but it is the power of God in us that sanctifies us continually, makes us more holy, more like You, Lord, day by day, moment by moment, and gives us the strength to persevere through every trial no matter how difficult. So I see that I am saved by You and unto You and in You.
And we have to understand this past and present salvation in You. You kept us safe up to the time of our salvation. You brought us to the point of salvation. You give us the heart to know we need Your salvation and You bring us to salvation. Peter, in chapter 1, verse 5 says we are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Here’s the future, to be completed salvation being worked in each believer. And I’d like to look at the word “kept” here. It’s “phroureo” in Greek. The tense used here is telling us that we are in need of continual protection. What kind of protection do we continually need? Remember all those struggles in our present life? Think about all those trials until we are in glory with the Lord. Moment after moment You are guarding us by Your continual power. It’s a re-emphasis of what Your “saving” is doing. We are continually being delivered. See the word for salvation being used is “soteria.” It’s all about rescue and delivery and safety.
You saved us and delivered us to bring us to You. You save us and deliver us to bring us to our final goal and victory with You. The reality is I can’t do any of it on my own or in my own power. God, You are more powerful than the greatest odds against me, and You will bring me to You wholly, body, soul, and spirit.
Now, Paul shares this really rough truth in 2 Corinthians 4:11. “For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” Now, I don’t think that Paul is just talking about those believers like himself that happen to be alive on this earth. I mean, part of it is just about being alive and walking and breathing on this earth. We have to be physically alive to experience life and trials and to even get to death. Only something living can die. But I think he’s talking also about those of us who are alive in Christ, those of us who have placed our trust and lives and actions in Christ. We have been saved to live a different way. In a sense, we have been saved to die because only by dying can we be brought to new life in Christ. Only by dying can we allow You, God, to display Your resurrection power in us.
You mean I have to die?! Well, Lord, You have called some people to physically suffer death in order that You would be most manifested. I think of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian who wanted to bring You to the Auca indians. They knew the cost. But their past salvation experience was compelling on their present salvation so that their future salvation was a promise to look forward to. They determined that if the Aucas attacked, they would only shoot a warning shot, but they would not fight back, because they knew the position of their salvation in Christ. They knew their own past, present, and future. Which meant they also knew the past, present, and future condition of the Aucas who were without You, Lord, at that time. So they chose to be delivered unto death for Your sake and the sake of the salvation of the Auca. People called them fools. But You led their wives back to minister the Gospel. And because You delivered those five men unto death and glorified Yourself through their death by sending angels to sing in the trees at the moment of their death, You worked to lead the Aucas to salvation so that they came to have a past, present, and future in You.
But we’re not all called to die physically for You. But we are all called to die to self. I can’t just die to my self once in the past because new situations arise where I haven’t died to my self yet. It’s one thing to determine that I’m going to surrender my life to You, Lord. But it’s even more to surrender it every day and allow You to deliver me however You see fit. Being saved was surrendering my life to a life of continual surrender. It was allowing You the authority to continually deliver me however You see fit and walking in that deliverance. If I must follow You into death, I follow You. If I must follow You into forgiveness, I follow You. If I must persevere through some really tough situations and still respond in love and power, I follow You and respond rightly. Being saved is living and responding in You and to You.
Why? So You are made manifest in all of me. People will see You in my actions and in the me they see and experience. Paul continues to say that we know that the One who raised up Jesus “shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” So we know that we will have this future finished salvation when we are all raised together with Jesus and we are all present together. But why? Why was I saved in the past? Why am I being saved daily? And why am I saved into the future? So that my thanks, my joy, my life, the work that God has and is and will do in me and in everyone else that surrenders to Him will be to and for the glory of God. It’s all about Your power, Your work, and Your glory as You change me moment by moment and make me like You.
Wake up because our salvation is growing every day! Wake up and lift up your eyes to the mountains. Our help has come and continues to come from Mt. Zion. That’s where the You, Lord, were crucified and gave Your life for us. That’s where You were raised to life. You are the same God, the same Jesus who made heaven and earth. Yes, You are He who will keep my foot from slipping. You are the One who never needs to sleep so You can always keep me without faltering. You never need to rest. Think of those implications! You never grow tired. You keep us in Your hands that never tire or grow weak. You protect us and shade us in the great strength of Your hand, which is stronger than everything and anything. The hottest thing like the sun can’t harm us and the coldest thing like the moon can’t harm us when we are in Your hands. Evil cannot harm us when we are in Your hands. You will keep all of me. My soul is eternally Yours. You guard me forever from the time I become Yours into eternity. Read it again in Psalm 121.
Christ has done His work in us if we have surrendered to Him as our Lord and Savior. That was our first work, to surrender, and His greater work that completed and completes us is His dunamis, His power, His miracle working power, that raises us to new life in Him. So, as I am raised to new life, to real life, to powerful life in Him, I live in that power and that saving grace and work of His in me. I cast off, I personally agree with You Lord, and throw off anything in my life that is not of You, all my old ways that don’t resemble You, all my thoughts that aren’t like Yours. And I choose to submit to Your power and draw to me instead Your clothing, Your thoughts, Your actions, Your ways, Your light. I choose in the strength of Your power to walk honestly. I conduct myself transparently according to Your ways and Your lifestyle. I disown the life I once lived. I let You change me and I choose to allow You to continually change me so that I am living in You and for You and by You. I let You have Your way in me and I choose that. I put You on and I take me off.
My walking in faith activates this power of God. My protection and salvation is “God’s response to our faith which we exercised in the Lord Jesus as Saviour and which now rests in Him as our Preserver. Our faith lays hold of this power, and this power strengthens our faith, and thus we are preserved.” (Wuest, K. S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans or Logos)
J C Philpot reminds us “The elect are preserved in Christ, BEFORE they are called by grace. They are kept by the power of God from perishing in their unregeneracy. ..But the elect are also kept by the mighty power of God AFTER they are called by grace…They are therefore preserved in hours of temptation, for they are guarded by all the power of Omnipotence, shielded by the unceasing care and watchfulness of Him who can neither slumber nor sleep. ..Having chosen us, God begets us with His word, regenerates us by a divine influence, and makes us new creatures by the power and influence of the Holy Spirit.”
I just can’t think of my salvation without always coming back to this verse in Revelation 17:14. “These (those in opposition to Christ) shall make war with the Lamb (Jesus), and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him (believers) are called, and chosen, and faithful.” You see faithful doesn’t happen as a one time deal. Neither does it happen by our own power. Only the called, who have answered that call, and therefore are the chosen, have the power to be faithful moment after moment. So where does this faithfulness come from? Revelation 19:11 tells us. It comes from the One in heaven Who is sitting on the white horse, the One Who is called “Faithful and True” because He alone is Faithful and True. This is what salvation is all about. It’s about being made into the image of the Faithful One by the Faithful One and in the Faithful One. Is this what salvation means to You? Is this what salvation looks like in Your life?
Lord, I want to be made into Your image. I want to surrender moment by moment fully to You. It’s not easy, Lord. Moment by moment I face a tremendous battle against my self. But thank You, Lord, that You are more powerful than my self. I am so grateful for Your continued salvation because I need You continuing that powerful work in me every moment. I don’t just want to be faithful and true. I want to be faithful and true like You. It’s beyond any faithfulness that man can attain to on his own. It’s a truth that man cannot know on his own. But it’s the power of God in me and in all who will believe and who continue in that life of believing. I am overjoyed to be kept by this power of Yours, God, through my continual walk in faith in You that is bringing me to my completed salvation in You that will be finally totally accomplished and revealed at the glorious unveiling before You. It’s like You are making masterpieces of us through Your power in our lives in this present world. And when You call us before You, You will take off the sheet that covers us. And what You have sculpted of us will be revealed to every other believer, to all the angels, to all creation, and even to those who were lost. You will take off the veil and reveal Your workmanship, and here we will stand, more beautiful than the most beautiful marble sculpture, because we will have been molded by Your hands, shaped through the trial of our life and our surrendering to Your sculpting. And what will all see? When the veil is drawn, and creation looks, they’ll see the image of You and not me, and I will be beautiful beyond description. This is the truth of salvation for every believer. Wake up and be who You are being created to be.