Expounding the More Perfect Way….Jesus Christ and Him Crucified Acts 18:24-28

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THE THREE STAGES OF SALVATION

According to the whole revelation of the Bible, God’s salvation is of three stages. It is a matter of a gradual process.

I. WITH THE ISRAELITES

The salvation which God intended for the children of Israel to partake of was related to three places: Egypt, from which they were delivered; the wilderness, in which they wandered; and Canaan, into which they entered. Their history in these three places signifies the three stages of their participation in God’s full salvation. The children of Israel did not partake of the whole of God’s salvation in one place.

A. Salvation from Egypt

In Egypt, the Israelites participated in the first stage of God’s salvation. At the time of the Passover, they experienced the redeeming blood of the lamb (Exo. 12:7) and the nourishing meat of the lamb (Exo. 12:8) and were saved from God’s righteous judgment. When they made their exodus out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they were saved from Egyptian slavery and tyranny. After crossing the Red Sea, they were a released and liberated people. In this sense, they all were saved. No one can deny that they had been saved from God’s judgment and from Egyptian bondage, tyranny, and slavery. However, they had only shared in one-third of God’s full salvation. Although they had been saved from God’s judgment and from Pharaoh’s slavery, what about God’s eternal purpose? What about God’s expression and dominion? With the children of Israel at that time, there was not yet the divine expression nor the divine dominion. The [282] tabernacle had not yet been erected, and God’s divine government had not been established on earth. Although the children of Israel had been saved from Egypt, they had to experience two further stages of God’s salvation for the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose.

B. Salvation through the Wilderness

After the Israelites were saved from Egypt where they ate the Passover lamb and the unleavened bread, they experienced salvation through the wilderness. Although they had had a sweet enjoyment of Christ, typified by the lamb in Egypt, that was merely the initial stage, the beginning. They had to enjoy, partake of, and experience Christ more, as typified by the manna and the rock flowing with living water. After the exodus from Egypt, God brought them into the second stage, which was signified by the wilderness. In the wilderness they enjoyed the feeding manna (Exo. 16:31-32) and the quenching water (Exo. 17:6).

Because of the influence of past teaching, whenever we hear the word wilderness we think of it as a bad word. Although it is not a good word, it is not altogether bad. If you consult a map, you will see that the children of Israel could not have gone from Egypt into the good land without passing through the wilderness. The wilderness was bad because the children of Israel did not go directly through it into Canaan but wandered in it for over thirty-eight years. It was that waste of time which made the wilderness so bad. If, however, they had crossed the Red Sea and gone directly through the wilderness into the good land, the wilderness would have been a good word. That the wilderness was not altogether bad is proved by the fact that there the Israelites enjoyed the manna and the water from the rock, both of which were types of Christ.

C. Salvation into Canaan

After wandering in the wilderness, the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered into the good land of Canaan, the third stage of their salvation. Here, in the third [283] stage, in the good land, they enjoyed something more than the lamb, the unleavened bread, the manna, and the water—they enjoyed the rich produce of the land of Canaan. Although they had eaten manna daily in the wilderness for nearly forty years, immediately after they entered into the good land, the manna ceased and they began to enjoy the rich produce of the all-inclusive land (Josh. 5:11-12). The Passover lamb, the heavenly manna, the living water, and the produce of the good land of Canaan are all types of the different aspects of the riches of Christ. If the children of Israel had only been saved in Egypt, they would have never tasted the manna. If they had not entered into the land of Canaan, they would never have enjoyed the rich produce of the good land. Hallelujah for the rich enjoyment of Christ in the various stages of salvation!

In the third stage of their salvation, salvation into Canaan, the Israelites entered into the rest (Deut. 12:9). All the rich enjoyment of Christ in the three stages of salvation is for the securing of the good land and the building up of the temple that there might be the expression of God and the divine government of God among men on earth. The full salvation of God with the rich enjoyment of Christ is for God’s expression and kingdom. Salvation from Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the good land is absolutely for God’s expression and kingdom. As we have seen, where there is God’s expression and kingdom, there is the Sabbath rest. When God’s glory filled His house, the temple, all His people rested in His presence. That was a Sabbath to God and to His saved people. Therefore, we clearly see that the three stages of God’s salvation are for His expression and kingdom so that God may have rest with His saved people.

As we have pointed out, God’s full salvation, which He intended for the children of Israel, included redemption through the Passover lamb, exodus from Egypt, feeding by the heavenly manna, thirst-quenching by the living water from the cleft rock, and partaking of the riches of the good land of Canaan. All the Israelites shared in the Passover lamb, the heavenly manna, and the living water, but of those [284] who shared the exodus from Egypt only Joshua and Caleb entered into the good land and partook of it; all the rest fell in the wilderness (Num. 14:301 Cor. 10:1-11). Though all were redeemed, only the two overcomers, Joshua and Caleb, received the prize of the good land.

The Passover lamb, the heavenly manna, the living water, and the good land of Canaan are all types of the different aspects of Christ. According to what has been depicted of the children of Israel, not all believers who have been redeemed through Christ will partake of Christ as a prize to them as their rest, their satisfaction, both in the church age and in the coming kingdom. Only those who, after being redeemed, seek Christ diligently will do so. This is why the Apostle Paul, though fully redeemed, was still pressing toward the mark that he might gain Christ as the prize (Phil. 3:10-14). In Philippians 3, Paul tells us that he was in Judaism but that for Christ’s sake he gave it up (vv. 4-9). Here in the book of Hebrews the writer holds the same concept in encouraging the Hebrew believers to forsake Judaism and press toward Christ that they may not miss the prize.

II. WITH THE NEW TESTAMENT BELIEVERS

A. Salvation from the World

According to the type of the salvation of the children of Israel, the salvation of the new testament believers is also in three stages. Firstly, we experience salvation from the world. We are justified through the blood of Jesus (Rom. 3:22-25) and separated from the world (Gal. 1:46:14). If anyone has not made his exodus from the world, he has not completed the first stage of his salvation. The salvation offered in Christianity is mainly a salvation with justification by faith through the blood of Christ, but without an exodus. Today there are millions of real Christians who have been justified by faith through the blood of Christ but who are still in the world. They need an exodus. We praise the Lord that we are out of the world, which includes religion. We are out of Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism. [285]

~LSM


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