It Is not without significance that salvation is so directly ascribed to God. In Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus, there is a sevenfold ascription. The phrase "God, our Saviour," occurs five times. Then there is the profound expression, "God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind." The completing thought touches the antiquity of grace. It tells of God "Who saves us and calls us with an holy calling, not in accord with our acts, but in accord with His own purpose, and the grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before eonian times." →2 Timothy 1:9.
God, our Saviour— is our Saviour because He is the Saviour of all mankind. Our belief, therefore, that He is the Saviour in so sweeping a sense, enhances the preciousness of the thought that He is our Saviour. And deeper meaning attaches to our conception of salvation, when we let its fullness thoroughly engage our hearts.
It is a satisfying thought that God "wills all mankind to be saved, and to come into a realisation of the truth" →1 Timothy 2:4. There can be no doubt of His willingness, nor of His ability. But, unlike man, God takes His time, and when the hour of full accomplishment comes, it will be seen how irresistible are His ways with the children of men. In wondrous, penetrating grace, God will meet the need and desire of all mankind. And He will meet it triumphantly, in the Son of His love.
Salvation comes first, and thereupon a realisation of the truth. This is the true order now, and will be then. Apart from an intensely felt salvation, what is knowledge? Of what avail is the knowledge of the centuries against the accumulation of its sin and evil?
But let the evangel of the glory of Christ irradiate the mind, and there commences a realisation, an intimate knowledge of blessed truth which is an ever-growing possession. In so many ways God is our Saviour.
It needs to be seen that, quite outside of self, there is a place, a position in the regard of God, entirely provided by Himself. To this position He alone brings us. He "rescues us out of the authority of darkness, and transports us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" →Colossians 1:13. And what a rescue, what a deliver¬ance! Chains are snapped which long had held us, and we go forth, free indeed - for now in Christ there is a new creation, a realm of the spirit in which are avenues of truth undreamed of by those outside.
In such experience lies the answer to those who would say, "If all are to be saved, why preach the evangel? What difference will the evangel make if, at the end, all are to come into a realisation of the truth?" A vast difference ! —Think of the gulf in thought and outlook upon life, between those who now realise their privilege and position "in Christ," and the vast number who walk according to the course of this world. How much they will miss? not only in this era of grace - but in the on-coming eons.
God is our Saviour in the everyday of life. He gives us liberty and peace, setting us above the conflicting voices of mere opinion. He illumes our minds by the word of His grace, giving us a rare perception of the counsel of His will. Therefore, we can stand apart from the many formulas of human philosophy. Its many gods and gospels with their dictums of destiny, luck and free-will - put the mind in a maze. How much better and simpler to rely exclusively on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind.
A great statement this - God is the Saviour of all mankind - the peak expression of divine benevolence. But when we think that God is at the helm of affairs, in things both great and small, it is a just and satisfying conception of His grace - given in a timeless past, abounding now, yet lying ahead for display of richest, fullest power.
We have only to dwell upon the vast implications of God's supremacy to perceive His power of accomplishment. There are times when from the smallest happenings, great times emerge. A certain legend expresses this:
"Because of a nail, a shoe was lost,
Because of a shoe, a horse was lost,
Because of a horse, a leader was lost,
Because of a leader, a battle was lost,
Because of a battle, a nation was lost."
May we not say, because of a nail, a nation was lost? So would there be songs and tears, joy and despair, because of a nail. We may think, too, of the small things in our own lives, from which good has ensued. And if it has been, or seemed evil, God has still been in the educative process.
If, then, God so moves now, in definite and delicate adjustment, what momentous movement is likely to be seen, not only in the millennium, but in the age to follow! The august Daysman, the peerless Son, will effect wonders before man and God. And men will think, and mayhap say, "Is this the Christ we so little esteemed, Whose sway wins allegiance from all?"
There will be wonder, but what love and praise! And will not those wonder most, who, in their former life, withheld from Him the true fullness of sacrificial grace? If the fact that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" is to be "worthy of all welcome," then we should give to it the scope and effect God has purposed.
"To limit the efficacy of such a sacrifice is to ascribe
victory to man's will as in conflict with God's. "
A vision of the largeness of God's purpose is needed, a deeper understanding of the great cause for which Christ came to His crucial hour of suffering. Were it for the salvation only of those who gave assent during their life on earth, then would the results fall far short of the fruition of God's desires; and, not only desires, but wills, as the high intention of His purpose and grace.
When we think how, from time to time, important issues evolve from small, unexpected actions and words, we are tremendously flung back on God's set purpose in life. This has been seen in our own life, and what shall we say of a sphere of life wherein God moves as perhaps never before? When, as Father, He joys in the vast accumulative work of His Son? And when, in the ultimate of all movements, in heaven and earth alike, He views the satisfying consummation of His grace?
There is but one clear answer, one exhaustive reply, and that is, that in such a scene, we contemplate, in the supremest sense, the headship of Christ. Then, the Christ comes most truly into His own. Beloved Himself, He stands before God, even the Father, Who is love, with the entire universe in train. What a thrilling reception, what a glorious presentation that will be! The great end for which the God of expectation waited, in perfect assurance, and for which Christ gave Himself. How fully such a conclusion will accord with the delight of His will!
Why, then, is such greatness of salvation not more widely believed? We have reason to think that there was a time when it was. But the imposed beliefs of the dark ages spoiled all this. Christendom was held, as with iron bands, in the grip of priest-ridden assent. And although such teaching is kept in the background, it is still there, giving that fatal bias which so clouds the perception of grace. Thus, we find resort to the limiting of Scripture by Scripture, to the seeing of finality when God's purpose is in continuance, and the ignoring of those passages which so blessedly bring out the fullness and triumph of saving grace.
The arresting, outstanding statements of Scripture should always be allowed the scope their precision gives them. They are mostly descriptive of God's irrevocable intention, and of its nature and climax. Passages that appear to clash are relative to means and processes in keeping with God's goal.
The writer well remembers how his heart and mind leapt to the glad truth when it was simply shown by a friend in the noble, unqualified declaration of Colossians 1:16-20. Then and there, an acceptance was yielded which twenty or more years of study and experience have but confirmed.
"The glory of the ultimate reconciliation of all
is the gladsome note which makes God's
salvation truly and conspicuously great."
There lies in this great truth a radiation of blessing, of grace and knowledge which no lesser, limited comprehension can convey. It is indeed "the utmost for the highest," a phrase so often used to denote a merely human achievement. Words fail to express the mighty excess of grace which reaches out to such a circumference. There is a magnetism, a drawing power which nobly and truly fulfils the profound utterance of Christ: "And I, if I should be exalted out of the earth, shall be drawing all to Myself" →John 12:32.
Words like these should need no comment. To qualify or to limit the grandeur and fullness of their meaning is to deny the efficacy and extent of Christ's sacrifice. The salvation of God, thereby so signally shown, is for all. But how happy should they be who, brought to a present belief, enjoy to the full the prospect of future salvation for all, even the reconciliation of the universe!
God's salvation is no half measure. It is not remedial provision for those alone who in their life on earth have believed. God, as it were, lays His oblation at the feet of all, though sight of the treasure may, in this life, be the privilege of few. But there are future ages, great stretches of time, in which it is the august work of Christ to draw all to Himself.
Then, moreover, the last enemy is destroyed ! This being so, how can there possibly exist such a scene of suffering and despair as some have pictured so luridly ?
A preacher of recent times has asserted "that sinners are raised with an asbestos-like body, every nerve being a road upon which ceaseless unspeakable agony travels night and day while eternity continues."
Can such a picture elicit or engender love? It would surely mar the whole universe, revealing a measure of frustration in the purpose and will of God. God's Word, however, does not contemplate such a terrible scene. On the contrary, it leads us to the view of a perfect and unmarred accomplishment— the secured salvation and happy submission of the entire universe.
Truly, "God is the Saviour of all mankind" →1 Timothy 4:10, and, in the present, in a special sense, our Saviour. We have a strong reason, then, to exult in "the evangel of the glory of the happy God." And what a glad message it thus becomes, as we see it in all its magnificent fullness! It is a disclosure of God worthy of everyone's reception. And who brings to pass such an outstanding triumph and climax of grace as is seen in the submission of the universe to God? There could be but One, the Lord of life and glory. And for such triumph and climax He awaits the breaking of God's long silence. Then, stage upon stage, the Victor of Golgotha will move on His momentous and victorious way. Then will He show that "the Father has delivered all things into His hands" →John 13:3. And in those capable hands, the world, even though it be by tumult, will be led to peace.
God's ways are not the ways of men. Some of them show severity, some a great kindness. Yet, mingled together, they all manifest His wisdom, and at their end reveal His great salvation. There is chaos in the world, and its darkness deepens. But to the blackness of its night, Messiah appears, and His rule is not relinquished until God's salvation visits all.
The vast creation will then, as never before, live and move and have its being in God. And the marvel of it will be that "the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all" →1 Corinthians 15:28.
The universe is in view here. So, then, it is not only mankind who will see so much to wonder at, but august beings of other realms. And, if grace is "a charming sound, harmonious to the ear," what a perfect expression it finds in such a scene! What a realisation of the truth attendant upon so great a salvation! How rapturous a vision, too, of the One Who carried it to such a conclusion, Who sought until He found, Who loved until He won!
Here we see God as Father, and the Son of His love still the obedient Son, but with what triumph His obedience is crowned! Heir of the ages and of the universe, He has come to His own. And there remains but perpetual remembrance of His dying love, and continual praise for its glad fruition.
Truly, God is our Saviour, and the Saviour of all.