From Notes of Addresses
When we speak of a present salvation, it is often understood to mean that a sinner can be saved now, at this moment. That is quite true, but that is not what I am meaning, but rather that there is a salvation for the present moment. A salvation for whom? For people that are saved. But how can saved people require a salvation? Well, because when we speak of them as saved, we mean that through the finished work of Christ, through His precious atoning blood, He has saved our souls from sin’s bitter consequences and all that threatened us, that eternal doom which lay before us. In that sense our soul is safe. But now there is another way of speaking of salvation, and that is what the young believer feels he wants. Well, he says, “I have trusted Him, but I don’t know how I’ll get on,” and be begins to measure his own frailty and weakness against all the acids he has to meet with in the workshop, in the office, at the bench, or wherever he is, and he feels he wants someone who can stand by him. Well, God has found that Someone for us in the same Person that died for us, but now ever lives for us, and that to carry us through.
Over 50 years ago I got peace with God through hearing a clear servant of God, long since gone to his rest, Mr. C.H.Mackintosh. He was preaching from Hebrews 9, the three appearings of Christ. That is the thing that settled my soul. I don’t remember what he said, but I know the peace of God has been with me ever since. It is a subject that has got a very warm place in my thoughts and affections. We speak about the three appearings of Christ because it says He appeared here once to “put away sin.” He appeared on earth, and His mission was to put sin away by “the sacrifice of Himself.” He now appears “in the presence of God,” in “heaven itself;” that is, for all those who belong to Him, His people. Then it says He shall “appear the second time,” apart from any sin question. He took up the sin question when He came the first time and He settled it; therefore it does not require to be taken up again. When He comes again He won’t have to touch that question at all, but He is coming for salvation.
There are not three salvations; there is only one. But although it is one salvation, there are three ways of looking at it. If I am a bankrupt, there is facing me nothing but beggary and ruin. Who is to save me? I cannot save myself; I am hopeless and helpless! The man who can save me is the man that will grapple with my debts, and settle them righteously to the satisfaction of my creditors. That is the man that can save me. There is no salvation for me except by the settling of that debt question. What puts my soul into peril? It is the sin question, and there is no salvation for me until the settling of the sin question. Christ came into the world to save sinners. He grappled with that question of sin and settled it. Paul writing to Timothy says, “God who hath saved us”; it is a thing that is put in the past tense. “Oh, but,” said a young lady to me the other day, “I don’t think anybody should speak so positively about that. My teacher says we ought to say, we are being saved.” Now there is a certain sense in which that is true, but in connection with the sin question, the soul salvation question, it is absolutely untrue. Why? Because all that rests on the work that is finished. It is true that we are being saved, but that rests upon an unfinished work. Whose unfinished work? Christ’s unfinished work, as unfolded to us in Hebrews 7:24-28.
In that passage the salvation spoken of is a preservation, the keeping of our feet from falling and stumbling along the road. Those, who have taken Christ as their Saviour and confessed Him as their Lord, now want to live so as to please Him; to walk down here to be a testimony to Him, and to be used of Him to bring others to Him, But then, you see, Christians are only reckoned by their walk and ways. The world does not measure you up by how much you know; it measures you up by how much you show. The Lord has left us here to be His disciples, to be fruit-bearers, and to be a testimony for God. Here comes the whole power of the enemy to defeat that object, and if he can get you back into your old worldly ways and associations he has practically brought about a defeat of the present object God had in saving you. Now Christianity does not only mean that I have got my soul saved, and am going to heaven by-and-by; Christianity means also the reproduction of Christ, in His moral features, in our everyday life. And I can tell you the world knows how a Christian ought to walk, and behave, but we may bring our utter feebleness to our Lord Jesus Christ who has set Himself apart in heaven to be the Priest, and therefore a Deliverer, a Preserver. So you see there is an aspect of salvation with reference to that.
A Priest is not for sins; a Priest has been set apart in order to help us in our infirmities—so it says at the end of the fourth chapter of Hebrews. Infirmities! what are they? They are not sin. I have heard people say when they got into a towering rage—This is one of my infirmities. It is one of my family failings. But that is not an infirmity. We must call things by their right name. Where is the infirmity? In the tendency. There may be that natural proclivity to be very short in the temper, with very little patience. But the Lord has set Himself apart to supply you with grace to preserve you in the midst of your temptations and your frailties and your weakness. That is what the Priest is for.
So we have a High Priest that is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He was in all points tempted as we are, except sin; there was no sin in Him. There was nothing in Him to answer to temptation; He suffered being tempted. The Devil never tempts with anything that costs us suffering; he tempts us with something we like. But the temptation to the blessed Lord caused Him suffering. We have to suffer if we resist the temptation, but He is there a great High Priest and for all that come to God by Him. Them “that come unto God by Him,” is a term that covers all the Christian company; those are the people He is interceding for.
I might just say, by the way, that we read, “to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” People tell us it is only those who are looking for Him He is going to take up when salvation, in the third and final way, comes to pass at His second advent. He will leave the other believers behind. Make no mistake about it. “Them that look for Him” is a term which covers all true Christians, the same people that “draw near to God by Him,” So also “them that love God” is a term that covers the whole Christian company.
He is a Priest that does not die. Other priests died; their priesthood passed from one to another: He ever lives, and He is able to save us for evermore, right on to the end of the journey. He knows our frailties, and He is able to sympathize, to succour, and ever to keep our feet from failing.
Where can I find all this help? Come boldly to the throne of grace, and obtain the mercy and seasonable help. That throne, which otherwise would have become the throne of judgment, has become the throne of grace, and you draw near and you get His succour, His sympathy, His tender compassion in your hour of need.
Our High Priest is “made higher than the heavens”—a good thing too! Why? Well, if you fell out of a rowing boat, and I came to you in a rowing boat, I might be able to lift you where I am into the rowing boat, but I couldn’t lift you into a tug. I could only lift you where I am myself, if I were in the tug I might lift you into the tug, but I couldn’t lift you into the big ocean liner. No, I am not there myself. If He is going to bring us to heaven, isn’t it a comfort to know He is higher than the heavens; He can bring you there.
What kind of a Priest is He? Holy. That is the path He trod; it was one of holiness and separation from sinners; is that the path you want to tread? You say, “Yes, Lord, that is what I want.” Then He is for you, though the devil is against you. The Lord has been in our circumstances, and He feels with us; if we want to tread in the way of holiness we have His sympathy. The people that know this present salvation, are people who want it.
If I tied you to a seat you would not be much inconvenienced by it until the moment came for you to get up and go; then you would be in difficulties. When a person begins to move on, then they find there is a hindrance. If you want to tread the heavenly way, the pathway of holiness and separation from sinners, you find you are against the stream, with the power of evil against you. But in all your weakness the Priest is for you, your Succourer and your Sympathizer. This is the “present salvation,” and I can get it at the throne of grace.
A girl was converted. She was one of a number of servants in a gentleman’s large establishment, but she stood to her guns and faced the lot of them, who came down hard upon her every day. She had a time of trial. And do you know what Mary used to say? “Lord, help me!” and He helped her. She found mercy and seasonable help. But one morning they began even before she got out of bed, and she said, “I think it is too bad of you; you don’t give me time to get out of bed and dress,” she boiled over with annoyance and scalded the lot of them. Then they at once said, “There is your saint!” Mary said in her heart, “Lord, help me!” You are too late, Mary! If you had said that before, He would have helped you, but you just left Him out; you thought you could manage this by yourself. No, Mary doesn’t want a Sympathizer. Christ could not sympathize with her in that path of sin because He never trod it. Yet He became her Advocate. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.” The Priest is only for frailties and tendencies.
Suppose a young Christian gets up in the morning and kneels, saying something like this:—“Lord, I am starting a new day; I don’t know what will happen today, but there is one thing I do know, if there is a chance of going wrong I will be sure to do so unless Thou dost hold me up and keep my feet from falling.” Telling the Lord all the frailties and tendencies, and coming to the throne of grace, in the hour of need the support is there. And where does the strength come from? It comes from Him.
A dog fancier and trainer was converted. Somebody said to him one day, “Why, Jim, you have got rid of the dogs!” “Yes,” he said, “I have, I have got something better.” “It seems very queer to see you without the dogs.” “Well,” he says, “I have learned a good lesson from the dogs before now. When I was their trainer I didn’t let them eat too much. In going down the street the dog would see a bone in the gutter, and a dog and a bone are very old acquaintances. I would say, ‘No, you mustn’t,’ and the dog would look at me as much as to say—what is wrong with the bone? And when I take my eye off him, why, he goes to the bone again. ‘No, you mustn’t!’ He looks at me as much as to say—‘why can’t you let me have it?’ I noticed this, that as long as the dog’s eye was on me there was power in me that kept him proof against the temptation, but the moment his eye wandered from me, his eye was on the bone.” Now all power is given to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is here to keep your eye upon Him. Let your eye wander from Him, and like the dog, you will be after the next temptation—and fall.
May the Lord help us to keep our eye on Him. A Yorkshire miner got converted. Before his conversion he was an awful character, now there was a vast change. And then the boys in the pit, that before never dared to cross him for a moment, all attacked him because he was a Christian. One day he went for one of the boys, seized his cap and flung it to the side of the wall. They thought the old demon had come back. He said, “Thank God that I have been converted, because otherwise that would have been your neck!” Well, one day his business was to keep some trucks running on the line, but at a curve the truck wheels came off the line, so he had to get them on again. He would manage to get the fore wheels on, and the back ones would come off and when he got the back wheels on the fore wheels would come off, and this went on for some time until his strength was giving way, and his patience too. Three fellows were standing round the corner, and they said, “We know Tom all right. We have seen him in that difficulty before. You will hear him break out presently!” He did not know anybody was watching him. Tom tried again—the same thing happened. And Tom did break out. Do you know how he broke out?
“I need Thee, oh, I need Thee,
Every hour I need Thee.”
He sung that little prayer, and it went straight to the throne of grace; and then he started again. This time on went all the wheels and off went the truck, and away. And these three fellows were disappointed, and the devil was cheated of his hoped for victory, and God was glorified. If we should break out like that, we should never break down. You know how we break down? Because we don’t break out in prayer to our loving and living and all sufficient Saviour.