Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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Message #4: The Basis of Salvation
We are considering together the first major section of I Peter which begins in verse 3 of chapter l and continues through chapter 2:10 relating to the matter of salvation. Yesterday we considered the matter of the Blessings of Salvation in l:3-9. We saw therein our position by faith as being children and sons of God, because we have been begotten of God the Father by faith. We saw also our possessions by faith, a living hope and a limitless inheritance. We saw the promise of faith, a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Then, the proof of our faith, which we experience now, the matter of testings, trials, and triumph. Then, the perspective of our faith, our relationship to One who loves us, One who never forgets us, One whom having not seen we love. Whom, having not seen, we love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; Receiving the end (or the issue) of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. We indicated that we believe that in this particular demonstration of it, it is the current experience of that in the reality of deliverance day by day as our souls are delivered in the face of difficulties and trials. However, this matter of salvation is greater than just the current experience of it. It includes that but as we also indicated, it includes that which has been taken care of from the past, in the deliverance from the penalty of sin; it does include the demonstration presently in the deliverance from the current power of sin in our lives and then in the future from the very presence of sin. All this is embraced in the concept of salvation as set forth in this epistle and elsewhere in the New Testament.
It is of this salvation, this so great salvation that we are going to study as we continue on, beginning at verse 10 and going through verse 12, in which having considered the blessings of salvation in 1:3-9 we now proceed to the basis of salvation in verses 10-12. Let me just state those verses. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed that, not unto themselves but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, which things the angels desire to look into. We have a grand and glorious salvation made possible to us through what the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has done for us. However, this salvation is not just a subjective thing that we in our own experience reach out to or which we define solely in terms of our experience. Indeed, if your salvation is only experience orientated, you will have a problem with your salvation, youre ultimately going to be of all people most miserable. Thank God that our salvation is not just a subjective thing. Oh true, it is that, but it is based upon that which is objective, that which we can look into. Literally, that which has been written.
There are those who believe that salvation is based upon a system of church in existence now. I remember reading a Knights of Columbus ad many years ago, and theyve repeated it since that time, saying, The early Christians never saw the Bible. What they meant by that was since the New Testament did not really become compiled as one unit and recognized as such until the Council of Carthage in the year 230; therefore, the New Testament Christians did not have the New Testament until it was brought together at that time. Consequently, they stated that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth; and therefore, if you want to know truth, you turn to the church, and the church will tell you whether this is true or false. Let me emphasize immediately folks that while the early New Testament Christians may not have had the complete New Testament, they did have parts of it, but they had the entire Old Testament. They had the Scriptures and the salvation that you and I enjoy and appreciate today that is, of course, set forth in the New Testament; but it is also prophetically, clearly set forth in the Old Testament. This is why the apostles preached everywhere from the Scriptures, the Old Testament. You will notice this for example if you turn to Acts 17 when Paul went to Thessalonica to minister the Word of God to those folks there, that his appeal was not to the church but to the Scriptures. Notice Acts 17:2, And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them (out of his church authority. Is that what it say? No, it says) out of the Scriptures. He used the written Word of God, which in his hands at that time was the Old Testament, Opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, Whom I preach unto you, is Christ (the Messiah). So Paul and the other apostles used the Word of God, the Old Testament Scriptures, to reveal the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this which is the source. The objective source of our salvation is found in the writings of the Old Testament prophets as I Peter 1:10 indicates, Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.
After Jesus Christ had been crucified, His disciples were considerably concerned, because they had hoped that He would have restored the glory to Israel that had been lost and would restore them from their bondage to a foreign power and establish His kingdom here on earth with Israel as the center of righteousness and blessing to the earth. But the disciples were rather disillusioned; and you find two of them as recorded in Luke 24 walking on their way to Emmaus, discussing between themselves the fact that the One in whom they had trusted had died, and they werent sure what had happened to Him. They had heard a report that He had been risen, but they couldnt quite believe this. They said in Luke 24:21, But we trusted that it had been He Who should have redeemed Israel; and, beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done (that is since the crucifixion). Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, who were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive (but they didnt even believe that). And certain of those who were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even as the women had said; but Him they saw not (so they had not gotten a clear picture back to these two disciples). And Jesus said to them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe, What? The experience that these disciple friends of yours have had? He could have said that but thats not what He did say. Notice what He did say. O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! He referred them back to the Old Testament Scriptures saying, Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them, in all the Scriptures, the things concerning Himself. I believe that that was probably the most profitable Bible conference that was ever held here on the face of this earth. When Jesus Christ, Himself, took these two disciples back into the Old Testament Scriptures and there in and there from revealed to them the things concerning Himself.
Some years ago, when I was teaching a course in Apologetics which I still teach, (Ive been trying to find someone else to teach it, but they dont seem to be able to find anyone else; so I keep on teaching it.) I used to require the students, before we had another course which now embraces this, to write a paper on Christ, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. I remember a young lady I had in a class a number of years ago. She imagined that she was one of these two disciples on the road to Emmaus and then tried to record many of the things that Christ Himself would have said in regard to what He saw in the Old Testament. It was really an outstanding piece of work, and I almost wish that I had it to read some of it to you this morning.
May I just allude to a few things that I am sure the Lord Jesus must have referred to when He talked to His disciples about Himself from the Old Testament? For example, I believe that He must have referred to Genesis 3:15, And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (The prophetic coming of Jesus Christ to destroy the power of Satan). The Savior promised, Satan punished, sacrifice prophesied. Then the very picturing of sacrifice prefiguring of redemption in Genesis 3:21, For Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skin, and clothed them (The sacrifice of animals to cloth man prefiguring the shedding of blood on Calvary for our sins). I believe that He undoubtedly took them to Exodus to the sacrifice of the Passover lamb; and He Himself of whom it was said by John the Baptist, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Then in the Psalms I am sure that He must have taken them to Psalm 22 where it is recorded in advance the words that the Lord Jesus cried out on the cross when He said, My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of my roaring? Really, we are grateful for the physical death of Christ, and He did die a physical death on the cross; but we are also greatly indebted to our Lord Jesus that He paid in full the price of our sin which was separation from God. This is the spiritual death that Christ suffered for us when He, the spotless Son of God bore our sins. Even His own heavenly Father could not look upon Him, and this is why darkness fell over the face of the earth and Jesus cried out, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Notice verse 7, All they who see Me laugh Me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him. You see, if God had delivered His Son from that bitter death for us, we would not be delivered from the eternal death which would have been our portion because of our sins. Notice verse 14, I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and Thou has brought Me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed Me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones; they look and stare upon Me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture. Undoubtedly the Lord Jesus must have referred to these verses and reminded these disciples that these very things had taken place on the cross of Calvary. I am sure that when He proceeded further He could not have and would not have missed the tremendous chapter of Isaiah 53.
I personally believe that the chapter should begin in chapter 52:13. The presentation of the suffering Savior. Behold, my servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high, looking forward to the glory that would follow the cross. Then he goes on to describe this, the picture of the suffering Savior, as you move on into Isaiah 53:1-3; and then in verses 4-6 the purpose of the suffering Savior, Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. I am sure that as the Lord Jesus unfolded these things to these two disciples on the road to Emmaus, their hearts must have burned within them as they said later on in verse 32, And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us along the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures. I trust that as we have just alluded to some of the many Scriptures that Jesus must have referred to that your own heart might have been stirred as the result of thinking back to what He must have shared with them and then relating that to Calvary where in reality and in truth He fulfilled that which was prophesied of Him by the prophets. Notice that while these prophets themselves were the source of this salvation, they had a search concerning it. They searched diligently. Those who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you. There was a problem that the Old Testament prophets faced. They prophesied of a coming Messiah, and in some parts of their writings they prophesied of One who would come to die; and then in other parts of their writings they prophesied of a Messiah who would come to reign. This was a bit confusing to the prophets of old and those prior to the time of the coming of the Lord Jesus. In fact, some Jewish scholars posited or set forth the possibility that two Messiahs would come. One would come to die and another would come to reign. Looking back and seeing how God fulfilled all this in His Son, we see that the very One who came to die, having been raised from the dead, having ascended and going back to the Fathers right hand, He is also the very same One who is coming back again and is going to rule and reign in righteousness on the earth. Now they searched and they prophesied of the grace that should come unto us and it is the grace of God, not only that we have a full and complete salvation, which we do; but it is also the grace of God that we have a full and complete Scripture which we do. Have not hesitation about that, have no doubt about that.
Last week I was dealing with these two Mormon elders and they were telling me how we had to have an additional revelation as through Joseph Smith and his successors. I pointed out to them that I am convinced that this is the faith once for all delivered to the saints, that God has completed His revelation to men in this Book. We neither seek for or need another Scripture for God in this portion. This Book, has revealed to us all that is necessary for life and for godliness. In II Peter 1:3, Peter refers to this, According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue; Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these (that is by the promises of the Word of God) ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
As you go on in II Peter to 3:1-2, This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you, in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, (Now notice verse 2. This is a strategic verse in the Bible concerning the authenticity of both the Old and the New Testament.) That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, (thats the Old Testament) and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior (thats the New Testament). In this verse, we have embraced by (and I say it a bit facetiously) the first Pope, the fact that we are not to pay attention to what that hierarchy has presented but rather we are to remember and pay attention to the Old Testament and the New Testament, to the words spoken by the prophets and the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior; because in the latter time there are going to come those who are going to question the Word of God, and they are going to question the coming of the Son of God because they do not know Him truly as their Savior. These Old Testament prophets, who wrote the Old Testament Scriptures, prophesied of the coming of the Lord Jesus and of the grace that should be ours. In fact, if you turn to Hebrews 11 you find out that they without us are not made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39-40) And these all, (that is these Old Testament saints) having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, (They did not get fullness that we have found in Jesus Christ.) Notice verse 40, God having provided some better thing for us, (that better thing is that great salvation that we have in Jesus Christ) that they without (or apart from) us should not be made perfect. And they with us will be made perfect in Christ. This is the grace that has come unto us. I Peter 1:11, the sequence, Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ. Now we saw something of that back in Genesis, in Exodus, in Psalm 22, in Isaiah 53, the suffering of Christ but also the glory that should follow.
There are many passages we could turn to but just for a moment turn to Psalm 16 in this regard, the glory that should follow. We will begin our consideration at verse 8, I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (the place of the dead), neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. This refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and His ascension to the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. When you turn, for example, also to Psalm 110 you have the ascension of our Lord and the exaltation of Him there at the right hand of His Father. Psalm 110:l, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Then in verse 4 in this age of Grace, . . . Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. We have a great high priest now at the right hand of God the Father. One day Hes coming back as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The prophets prophesied first of the sufferings and then of the glory that should follow. May I indicate that this fits in beautifully to the entire theme of I Peter which relates to the matter of sustaining strength for suffering saints. There may be suffering now, there may be distress and tribulation, but theres only glory by and by. There may be tears to shed as we travel home. . . Only glory. . .Wondrous glory by and by. For us the suffering is now, but the glory shall follow, because once He suffered for us and now has entered into His glory. What a tremendous practical truth for us. Now notice in I Peter 1, verse 12. It was something of a secret to them. Unto whom it was revealed that, not unto themselves but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you. How glorious that God in His sovereign purpose has reserved for you and me of this age of Grace, this tremendous Book, the Bible; wherein is set forth the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again and that we have a glorious Savior in heaven ever interceding for us. Unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you. The gospel is the substance of this great salvation, the Good News. The Good News is not what we can do for God. So many Christians (and I use that in a very wide, general sense) think that they are saved because of what they have done. Your salvation is never based on what you have done but on what He has done. Thats the Good News, what God has done for you in and through His Son, not what you can do for Him. This is the Good News . . . with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, which things the angels desire to look into.
Do you know that we are in reality better off than the angels, even the angels that have never sinned? The reason that we are better off is that we have new life in Christ. They have a continuing life that they had from the beginning, but we have a new life. We, who have passed from life unto death, who were sinners now saved by the grace of God know from whence we have come. We know that we have nothing in ourselves to commend ourselves to God, but we also know its the grace of God that has made us to be what we are now and what we shall be hereafter. Gods grace is a glorious theme. They prophesied of the grace that should come unto you. We have that grace. We have experienced it in the initial aspect of our salvation when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. We can experience it now in the sustaining grace of Jesus Christ, keeping us day by day and one day we will experience that grace when He literally takes us out of this life to be with Himself.
Paul in writing to Titus talks about the grace of God, and he indicates that it has a very practical effect upon us. If you turn to Pauls epistle to Titus 2:11, For the grace of God that bringeth salvation (and theres our theme that we are dealing with in I Peter) hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. I referred in a previous message to a truth that our former pastor, who is now with the Lord, Dr. Ralph Stoll, used to emphasize, when you can say I believe you can also say I belong. When youve experienced the grace of God in the initial aspect of salvation, you can continue to experience the grace of God in that belonging relationship here and now. Ive added two things to what my pastor used to teach, not that that wasnt sufficient, but I like to give a little bit more perspective to it. From this passage in Titus as well as in Peters teaching, I believe, I belong, I behave. You see while youre here its expected that youll demonstrate the reality of your salvation in your behavior, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts. Then the capstone: Ill be gone. Maybe today. I believe, I belong, I behave, Ill be gone. Theres four Bs to put in your bonnet today and allow them to buzz some truth home to your heart. I believe, I belong, I behave, Ill be gone. Thats the great, grand, and glorious salvation that the prophets of the Old Testament spoke about, that the apostles of the New Testament wrote about, and which we have contained herein in this eternal Word of God, the Bible. We can rest our subjective experience upon this objective revelation, the Written Word of God.
As it was delivered at
SANDY COVE BIBLE CONFERENCE
Dr. Stuart E. Lease
August 15, 1975