Salvation in the Present

by | Apr 1, 2016

Salvation that has in it the glow of the living present depends…upon nothing so much as Christ Himself, crucified and risen, entering into us and we into Him. When one has experienced this kind of salvation he can never be content with less.

Just as the Church must continually battle against the stifling encroachment of formalism upon its spiritual life, so the individual Christian must ever be on his guard against sagging from that level of salvation which is living, glowing, glorious, and real—and all that now!

Love is a test in our relationships. It may be that in the work of the Church we have taken a stand for the right which has involved us in a relationship badly lacking in love. The quicker we get the matter clear, the better it will be, for suspicion and tension have a tendency to rapid growth. I am sure that ninety-nine percent of the quarrels in churches arise not from evil motives but from misunderstanding.

“A lack of understanding usually leads to misunderstanding.”

Being a Christian means living a transparent life and keeping all our relationships transparent. Immense defeat comes from insisting that the trouble is with the other party and that therefore nothing can be done about it.

No matter how right I have been, I am under obligation as a Christian to recognize that if my brother hath ought against me I am thereby party to a wrong relationship, and I cannot claim that I am living in love with all men until I have taken the initiative in a thorough effort at settlement. If I wait for my brother to take the initiative, I share the guilt.

Loving frankness is a Christian grace that ought to be more amply cultivated in our day.

A second test…is the matter of victory over temptation. There is probably no quicker way to lose the glow than to walk the path of defeat. Perhaps defeat has become so much the rule that one now feels much less compunction than formerly, and, indeed, has thought up some good reasons why he could not be expected to do better.

One may even have consecrated his life to mission work in a distant land and still harbor these inner defeats. The test of absolute surrender to God nine times out of ten concerns not a spectacular thing like leaving home for the mission field, but rather forsaking that pet sin which always bobs up accusingly.

Can we hope for nothing better than a way of defeat from the perfect Christ? Must we tell of being saved ten years ago and harbor up-to-date memories of defeat? No, thank God, we can be “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

When the cross becomes real enough in our own hearts to become the crucifixion spot for those very sins which defeat us, we shall experience the resurrection power of the Living Christ in a salvation which is now, full of glow and victory. This is the essence of sanctification.

Sanctification is a crisis experience in that one arrives at a moment of all-inclusive surrender, and it is a process in that it involves carrying the validity of that surrender into every succeeding moment of the eternal now, applying it to additional areas of un-Christlike living within us as they are revealed by the abiding Christ who is the Holy Spirit.

Closely akin to the maintenance of victory is the discipline of the devotional life. It is a glorious privilege that we are able in an instant and in a noisy crowd to lift our hearts in prayer with assurance that God hears. But this is a poor substitute for those longer periods of quiet devotion in which we talk with God and He speaks to us and in which the soul finds dimensions.

Everett Lewis Cattell (1905-1981) was a Quaker minister, long-term missionary to India, and president of Malone College in Canton, OH. This is a selection from The Spirit of Holiness (Chapter 1: The Time Elementation in Salvation, pp. 13-16), Beacon Hill Press, 1977.