What a great word that word “salvation” is! It includes the cleansing of our conscience from all past guilt and the delivery of our soul from all those propensities to evil which now so strongly predominate in us. It takes in, in fact, the undoing of all that Adam did. Salvation is the total restoration of man from his fallen estate. And yet it is something more than that—for God’s salvation fixes our standing more secure than it was before we fell. It finds us broken in pieces by the sin of our first parent—defiled, stained, accursed. It first heals our wounds, it removes our diseases, it takes away our curse, it puts our feet upon the rock Christ Jesus and having thus done, at last it lifts our heads far above all principalities and powers, to be crowned forever with Jesus Christ, the King of Heaven.
Some people, when they use the word “salvation,” understand nothing more by it than deliverance from Hell and admittance into Heaven. Now that is not salvation—those two things are the effects of salvation. We are redeemed from Hell because we are saved and we enter Heaven because we have been saved beforehand. Our everlasting state is the effect of salvation in this life.
Salvation, it is true, includes all that because salvation is the mother of it and carries it within its heart. But still it were wrong for us to imagine that that is all the meaning of the word.
Salvation begins with us as wandering sheep. It follows us through all our mazy wanderings. It puts us on the shoulders of the Shepherd. It carries us into the fold. It calls together the friends and the neighbors. It rejoices over us. It preserves us in that fold through life. And then at last it brings us to the green pastures of Heaven—beside the still waters of bliss—where we lie down forever in the presence of the Chief Shepherd, never more to be disturbed.