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The Righteous Is Saved


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And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?

—1 Peter 4:18

This phrase, “it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved,” is, at first, confusing. The “righteous” are, by definition, those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit, or, in theological terms, regenerated. Regeneration is a miracle whereby God raises the (spiritually) dead to life. Just as he spoke the universe into being with a word, so he breathes life into dead souls. It is not difficult. But regeneration is not the end of salvation. Salvation, ultimately, is realized in heaven when we are glorified with Christ; only then is our salvation complete. It is the time in between that is difficult; it is the “endur[ance] to the end” (Matthew 10:22, cf. Mark 13:13; Matthew 24:13). Endurance is difficult, but it is also assured. While our salvation is not yet fully realized, we need not doubt its final fulfillment.

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The righteous are saved. What do I say? the righteous shall be saved? He is saved already. ‘This day is salvation come to thine house,’ saith Christ to Zaccheus, Luke xix. 9. ‘We are saved by faith, and are now set in heavenly places together with him,’ Eph. ii. 6. We have a title and interest to happiness already. There remains only a passage to the crown by good works. We do not, as the papists do, work to merit that we have not, but we do that we do in thankfulness for what we have. Because we know we are in the state of salvation; therefore we will shew our thankfulness to God in the course of our lives.

How can we miss of salvation when we are saved already? Christ our head being in heaven, will draw his body after him. What should hinder us? The world? We have that faith in us, ‘which overcometh the world,’ 1 John v. 4. As for the flesh, you know what the apostle saith, We are not under the law, but under grace,’ Rom. vi. 14. The spirit in us always lusteth against the flesh, and subdues it by little and little; neither can Satan nor the gates of hell prevail against us; for the grace we have is stronger than all enemies against us.

God the Father is our Father in Christ, and his love and gifts are without repentance, Rom. xi. 29. When once we are in the state of salvation, ‘he will preserve us by faith to salvation,’ 1 Pet. i. 5; and we are knit to God the Son, who will lose none of his members. The marriage with Christ is an everlasting union; whom he loves, ‘he loves to the end,’ John xiii. 1. As for God the Holy Ghost, saith Christ, ‘I will send the Comforter, and he shall be with you to the end,’ John vi. 14, 16. The blessed Spirit of God never departs where he once takes up his lodging. There is no question, therefore, of the salvation of the righteous; they are, as it were, saved already.

Let this teach us thus much, that in all the changes and alterations which the faith of man is subject unto, he is sure of one thing: all the troubles, and all the enemies of the world shall not hinder his salvation. ‘If it be possible the elect should be deceived,’ Mat. xxiv. 24; but it is not possible. O what a comfort is this, that in the midst of all the oppositions and plottings of men and devils, yet notwithstanding, somewhat we have, that is not in the power of any enemy to take from us, nor in our own power to lose, namely, our salvation. Set this against any evil whatsoever, and it swallows up all. Put case a man were subject to an hundred deaths, one after another, what are all these to salvation? Put case a man were in such grief, that he wept tears of blood; in the day of salvation all tears shall be wiped from his eyes. Set this, I shall be saved, against any misery you can imagine, and it will unspeakably comfort and revive the soul beyond all.

—Richard Sibbes, The Difficulty of Salvation, Works (Banner of Truth, 2001), 1:396–397.



Posted 2017·08·07 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Perseverance of the Saints · Richard Sibbes · Works of Richard Sibbes

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