“… And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”
“Day by day, through the spring and the early summer, the sun shines longer in the sky, and rises higher in the heavens; and the path of the Christian is as the shining light.” (Maclaren, Alexander; “Expositions of the Holy Scriptures”)
By Reverend Ray
One of the most interesting things we have encountered in the rural parts of southern Chile is the tremendous fertileness of the ground. One can simply break a branch from a tree or bush and push it into the ground and it will take root and grow. In the Lord’s parables on the sowing of the seed we are metaphorically introduced to a ground of similar characteristics. It is notable that the seed in the good soil doesn’t merely spring forth but grows and increases. Thus, there is an implicit conveyance that increase or continuance of growth is the characteristic unique to this particular ground. Just as the farmer does not plant his seed with the intent that it only breaks through the ground and then dies, but has a view toward it bearing fruit; so, the seed of salvation that God plants in the fertile soil will bring forth fruit.
Now this is set forth to lay the foundation for what is being said in the passage above concerning the nature of true salvation and fraudulent or misdirected conceptions of the work of redemption. The Church for decades, and even possibly, one could argue for centuries, has seen a vain of Christianity that celebrates a form of redemption that is occupied with a point in time rather than the living, growing work of God that the Bible describes as salvation. The idea that one merely making an intelligent conscious decision constitutes an act of God’s redemptive work was forcibly propounded by C. G. Finney in the early to mid 19th century and resultantly has been adopted as the status quo of Biblical salvation. Yearly, across the world from the American Church to missionaries dispersed across the world this concept has been carried into the minds of momentarily serious individuals reflecting on avenues of escape from the certain doom of eternal damnation. The facility and convenience of relief from guilt and escape is marked on a card or in a Bible as objective evidence that he or she has acted in a manner that has made God obligatory to their actions. The tragic truth be told; the greater percentage of these same individuals go about their merry way with no further interest or desire to continue in a life that is conducive to a genuine work of the Spirit in redemption.
All this is absolutely contrary to the writing of Luke in the passage in Acts we are considering. His description of genuine redemption is captured in the phrase; “those who were being saved.” In the original language, (Greek) this phrase conveys the concept of that which God saves by grace is not merely a once in a moment in time. The salvation is like a mustard seed; it grows and continues to grow into a tree. In other words, salvation has a beginning but as certain as it is a work that God begins; it equally is a work that God continues working in the individual. Everyone privileged to a new birth is also privileged to the same grace that will continue to work out this salvation in them. This is the confidence that Paul spoke of in Phil. 1:6. True salvation is a continuing work that has both present and future objectives. If God is not in the process of saving you then there is no question as to whether He has begun a work in you. We are then just dead wood; having a form but no life. Salvation is a living work, not a single application.