“Them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).
There is far more in the expression “the saving of the soul” than safety from the eternal judgment of God, which must surely be meted out to the wicked. Salvation in that sense of it is a very great matter indeed; and it belongs to all those who have believed in our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot thank God too much for His great mercy to us in this respect; for truly, we richly deserved His judgment.
The Epistles in which these expression occur—Hebrews and 1 Peter—were both written to converted Jews, and if we are to rightly understand their meaning we must keep this in mind.
Before they received our Lord Jesus Christ as the God-sent Messiah, they had cherished the hope of that salvation which was to come, and of which their Old Testament Scriptures spoke with such rapture.
Isaiah 4 is one of these prophecies. “Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation” (v. 17). This would be for their nation, and it would be found “in the Lord”; for “there is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none else beside Me” (v. 21). Israel was therefore shut up to Him for salvation. But there followed a world-wide invitation: “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (v. 22). The world is also shut up to Him. In the last verse we read, “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.”
But this glorious salvation for which every pious Israelite looked, was for the time being lost to them because of the rejection of the Messiah. The public revelation of it was postponed; but those to whom Peter wrote had received Christ in faith. They had believed in Him, before He brought in publicly the “salvation ready to be revealed” (1 Peter 1:5). They loved Christ already. “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently” (1 Peter 1:8-10).
But this is ours, as well as theirs, for the Lord drew out of Israel those who believed on Him, and He is drawing out from amongst the Gentiles those who believe in Him, and they are made one—sharers of a common salvation.
As Simeon received the Saviour into his arms he sang, “Mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a Light for revelation to the Gentiles and the Glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32, N.Tr.). In receiving Him in faith, soul-salvation is ours, before our bodies are saved; and before Israel and the nations are brought into salvation.
In Hebrews 10:39, the Apostle says, “We are not of them who draw back unto perdition;” but, since “the just shall live by faith” (v. 38), we go on in faith, “to the saving of the soul,” or “to soul-saving”. In what follows in Hebrew 11 we have this illustrated, by the men of faith who had gone before. Faith enriches the soul with the things hoped for. It is the substantiating of things hoped for, as well as the conviction of things not seen (v. 1). Now this truth links with what we have spoken of in 1 Peter 1 instead of vain things, corruptible things, and defiled things, and dead things, filling our souls, we have a living hope, and that which is precious and abiding, incorruptible, undefilable, and unfading. But we have these things by faith, and though we have not seen Him, yet we know the love of Christ, and love Him, and rejoice with joy unspeakable. Christ Himself is received, and our souls are “full of glory” (v. 8). Therefore it is at once added, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired,” for faith in these unseen things lifts up the soul above the corruptible and defiling things of the world, and these things that belong to the kingdom when His kingdom comes are ours now.
No material order, no seen organization, no outward system, however correct and scriptural, can bring this about for us. Of course, it is most important to be correct and scriptural in the order of our gatherings, etc.; but when that is put in the place of faith, loss of a very serious nature follows. Hardly anything could be worse than to say that salvation is in the assembly. The Apostle endured “all things for the elect’s sake, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). It is faith which brings this great wealth, these divine riches, into our souls; and the Christ dwells “in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:17).
It will be seen from what we have said, that soul-salvation in these scriptures necessarily includes the judicial salvation, which is ours when we believe; when we receive the forgiveness of sins, and are justified on the principle of faith; but in its positive aspect it embraces the present enjoyment in the soul, of that salvation, which, in its fullness, is ready to be revealed. It is ours in this world now, because it is “in Christ.”
In His name a lame Israelite was once strengthened to walk, and leap, and praise God. To the rulers and elders of Israel, when called upon to answer before them as to this miracle, Peter said, in effect: If ever you (Israel) are to be saved, and also to be filled with joy and praise, like this lame man, it must be through our Lord Jesus Christ; for “in none other is SALVATION” (Acts 4:12, N.Tr.). If that nation still rejects Him, let us ever remember it is all of grace that we have accepted Him.