Saved and Being Saved (Warfield)

 The Bible talks about salvation in many different places.  It also uses different tenses when it talks about the salvation of God’s people.  For example, we have been saved (Eph 2:5).  We are being saved (2 Cor. 2:15), and we will be saved (Mt. 24:13).  This language means that when God graciously rescues a person from sin, death, and hell, he doesn’t just bring the person immediately to glory.  Instead, there’s a path, or journey called the Christian life.  Here’s how B. B. Warfield put it:

What is chiefly of importance for us to bear in mind here, is that God’s plan is to save, whether the individual or the world, by process. No doubt the whole salvation of the individual sinner is already accomplished on the cross: but the sinner enters into the full enjoyment of this accomplished salvation only by stages and in the course of time. Redeemed by Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, justified through faith, received into the very household of God as his sons, led by the Spirit into the flowering and fruiting activities of the new life, our salvation is still only in process and not yet complete.

We still are the prey of temptation; we still fall into sin; we still suffer sickness, sorrow, death itself. Our redeemed bodies can hope for nothing but to wear out in weakness and to break down in decay in the grave. Our redeemed souls only slowly enter into their heritage. Only when the last trump shall sound and we shall rise from our graves, and perfected souls and incorruptible bodies shall together enter into the glory prepared for God’s children, is our salvation complete.

 Benjamin B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation: Five Lectures (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1915), 129.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015


With the Strength God Gives You (Or: Nothing Depends on Your Weakness)

Faith and LifeWith the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News” (2 Tim. 1:8b NLT).  Paul wrote these words to Timothy to encourage him to press on in his Christian calling despite suffering and hardship.  B. B. Warfield has some great words on Paul’s encouragement to Timothy in 2 Tim. 1:8-10:

“…We shall certainly take notice that he [Paul] places beneath Timothy the eternal arms of God Almighty.  He lifts the eyes of Timothy from himself to God, and says to him in effect, There, there is your strength.”

“And observe the pains Paul is at to impress on Timothy that the relation in which he stands to this God, by virtue of which God becomes his strength, is not, in any sense – not in the remotest degree, not in the smallest particular – dependent on Timothy himself, or anything that he has done, is doing, or can do.  He would withdraw Timothy utterly from the least infusion of dependence on self and cast him wholly on his dependence to God, that he may realize that his weakness is not in question, but the whole strength of God is behind him to uphold him and bear him safely through.”

“…What Paul is doing is so completely to take away Timothy’s consideration of himself in this whole matter of the Gospel that he will trust exclusively in God and feel that, therefore, there can be no failure – just because it is God alone and not he himself on whom the performance rests.”

“[It was as if Paul was saying to Timothy,] do you not remember how you were brought into relations with this God?  Was it of yourself that you were called with this holy calling?  Nay, no works of your own entered in.  It was of his own purpose that he called you; the grace that has come to you was given you from all eternity.  What has come to you in time is only the manifestation of what was eternally done.  It is this Almighty God who is using you as his instrument and organ.  Nothing depends on your weakness; all hangs on his strength.  Take courage and go onward.”

B. B. Warfied, Faith and Life, p. 407-8.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI , 54015


Surrender and Consecration: Life and Ministry

Faith and Life Many of B. B. Warfield’s Princeton sermons are wonderful and edifying pieces to read.  One that I appreciate is from Acts 22:10 (What shall I do, Lord?) called “Surrender and Consecration.”  Here are two paragraphs from it – the second one applies to ministers of the gospel.  These words make me think of the hymn “Take My Life.”

In this latter question (“What shall I do, Lord?”) there unite the two essential elements of all [true] religion, surrender and consecration—the passive and active aspects of that faith which on the human side is the fundamental element of religion, as grace is on God’s side, when dealing with sinful men. “What shall I do, Lord?” In that simple question, as it trembled on the lips of Paul lying prostrate in the presence of the heavenly glory, there pulsated all that abnegation of self, that casting of oneself wholly on Christ, that firm entrusting of oneself in all the future to Him and His guidance,—in a word, the whole of the “assensus” and “fiducia,” which (the “notitia” being presupposed) constitute saving faith. And saving faith wherever found is sure to take this position, perhaps not purely—for what faith of man is absolutely pure?—but in direct proportion to its purity, its governing power over the life. Surrender and consecration, we may take it then, are the twin key-notes of the Christian life: “What shall I do, Lord?” the one question which echoes through all the corridors of the Christian heart.

And as our life as ministers of the Gospel is nothing else but one side of our Christian life— the flower and fruit of our Christian life—surrender and consecration must be made also its notes. It is in direct proportion as they are made its key-notes that we may hope for success in our ministry; for only in this proportion are we Christ’s ministers and not servitors of our own selves. Let us, then, approach this holy calling in this spirit, the spirit of Paul before us and of every child of Christ through all the ages. Let us now as we enter these halls to begin or to re-begin our preparation for the great work before us, have no reservations—that we will serve the Lord in this sphere, but not in that; that we will serve Him to this extent, but not to that; that we will serve Him in this mode, but not in that. Let surrender and consecration be our watch-words. “What shall I do, Lord?”—let that question be the spirit of all our lives.

B. B. Warfield, Faith and Life (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974),155-6.

shane lems