If the title of this article shocks you, don't worry, it should.
All throughout our lives as believers we have for the most part been taught that salvation was received and inherited at the cross. Although it sounds like it is correct and it sounds realistic, the truth is that the bible actually does not teach this. In fact, it is overwhelmingly clear that the saints that were alive after the cross were all still looking ahead to the day that they would receive their salvation.
To put it rather simply...
The Coming of the Lord brought the inheritance. The Coming of the Lord raised the dead into heaven and gathered the living remnant into the Kingdom simultaneously.
We say these words all the time....."HE SAVED ME!"
The truth is, if Christ has not yet returned, then NOBODY has obtained salvation. Salvation was the result of the Kings return to fully cloth His saints in perfection and to fully establish His Kingdom on earth.
My goal is to demonstrate this using nothing but scriptures written AFTER the cross and after Christ's ascension into heaven. I will use scriptures from a variety of books just to prove that this is well documented from numerous inspired authors. Let's start with Peter. Written decades after the cross of Christ, look what he writes...
"Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:5
he also writes...
"Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:" 1 Peter 1:9-10
So right off the bat we see Peter speaking of this salvation that was going to be "revealed in the last time". But the majority of pastors today teach that they had already had it at that time.
Now I know what you may be thinking. You are thinking that perhaps Peter was just talking about when these saints would die. It would be when the died that they would receive their salvation. What you will see as you progress through this article is that this just cannot be so. It is abundantly clear that salvation as a whole, wouldn't be applied to anyone and wouldn't be received by anyone, until the Lord returned to end the Old Covenant Age.
Let's read on and see what Paul had to say about it in his letter to the Romans. Again, remember this is written decades after the cross.....
"…for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." Romans 13:11
he also wrote...
"...even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." Romans 8:23
Again, we see this written many years after the cross and it is clear that their salvation was getting closer. It was "nearer" then, then when they had first believed. They were still "waiting for the adoption" Paul says. When we are brought into the Kingdom today, we are adopted in right? Of course we are! But back then, Paul says "we are WAITING FOR THE ADOPTION". It hadn't happened yet because when this letter was written, the Old Covenant age was still coming to a close and the Lord had not yet returned.
Again after the cross, Paul in Ephesians writes...
"In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." Ephesians 1:13-14
Again, they were given the Holy Spirit as a sign or a deposit of their inheritance. They would have that until the "redemption of the purchased possession". They had not received their redemption yet. They were given the Holy Spirit as a sign that they were safe, they were His. But again, the actual finished product would not be inherited until the Coming of the Lord.
To the Philippians after the cross Paul writes...
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2:12
They were working it out because they hadn't yet received it. How many times have you heard someone these days say that we are "totally secure in Him and our salvation is secure! Nobody can pluck us from His hand!" Yet at the same time they say "we have to work out our own salvation".
The first century saints were working it out because they hadn't yet received it. You and I today, when we are brought into His light, we are in. There is no if's about it. Does this make it ok to sin? BY NO MEANS! - said the Apostle Paul
True Grace gives a person the ability to walk pleasing to God. Are we going to be perfect and commit no sin? OF COURSE NOT. However, when you are in Him, you are made perfect because of His perfection. You are fully clothed today. Whereas the first century saints who were still looking ahead to the inheritance were called "partially clothed" by Paul when he wrote...
"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life."
2 Cor. 5:4
The author of Hebrews, decades after the cross writes...
"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Hebrews 1:14
"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin for salvation." Hebrews 9:28
How can the author say that they "shall be heirs of salvation" if they already had it? Impossible.
Secondly, how powerful is Hebrews 9:28? It can't be anymore clear! The cross was the payment for sin but his Coming would bring salvation. His coming was for salvation!
Writing to believes after the cross Paul writes to the Thessalonians...
"But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." 1 Thessalonians 5:8
Hoping for a salvation they already had? Or a salvation that was coming?
In Acts chapter 3, after the cross, look what we read...
"That your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ.. whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:19-21
Again this was after the cross and yet their sins would not yet completely be blotted out until the Coming of the Lord Jesus. Jesus even spoke of their redemption in His discourse when He said....
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth NEAR." Luke 21:28
Jesus was speaking about the armies surrounding Jerusalem in this chapter. He even says it. He also encapsulates everything He predicted as going to happen within that generation. It would be happening before some of the men listening to Him there would die. He says "when you see these things happen, look up for your redemption draws near". How could their redemption be drawing near decades AFTER THE CROSS if it was finalized at the cross? Makes no sense!
Now I know the one verse you are thinking of. The thief on the cross. I mean after all, that was at the cross and Jesus did say to him "today you will be with my in paradise".
But did you know that the word for paradise is G3857 "paradeisos" and the definition of this word as used in the bible actually means....."the part of Hades which was thought by the Jews to be the abode of the souls of the righteous and Godly until the resurrection?"
To a Jew in that day, the word "paradeisos" would have represented Hades or Abrahams Bosom.
We know that this must be what Jesus was referring to because the resurrection of the dead can be exhaustively proven to have taken place at the detraction of Jerusalem at the end of the Old Covenant age.
Many people deny the already but not yet principle that we see in the New Testament writings. This is a tremendous mistake. Every redemptive concept that we read of, has an already but not yet theme to it. They had already received the deposit of their inheritances but yet they were still waiting to receive the finished product. If you earn a $5000 bonus from your employer and it is going to be paid to you in 60 days, is it by rights yours? Of course it is! It is as good as done! Legally that money is yours! However, you have to wait 60 days to receive it. Would you speak to your spouse about the money as if it was already yours? OF COURSE YOU WOULD! You'd probably even talk about what you're going to spend it on. Why? Already but not yet! It's a done deal! You are just waiting for it!
The resurrection, salvation, immortality, etc. Every one of these concepts is consistent. It was as good as done at the cross. When they received their deposit promise of the Holy Spirit they were assured they would inherit the promises when the Lord returned. Complete perfection would not come until the Lord came to bring it.
If the Lord has not yet returned, then nobody has obtained salvation.
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