Sunday, October 13, 2013

The beginning of salvation - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"Further release from evils is the beginning of salvation. We then alone, who first havetouched the confines of life, are already perfect; and we already live who are separated from death. Salvation, accordingly, is the following of Christ." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 6)
Clement continues his refutation against those who accused Christians of being childish and infantile in their thought and education. Clement asserts that the work of salvation is a perfect work; we are not saved by degrees but we are saved in whole at our conversion from death into life. It would be ridiculous to consider one saved halfway from death and delivered halfway to life. Prior to our conversion we were dead, even as we lived, now we have eternal life, even if we should die. John wrote, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13) Not that we might have eternal life but that we might know that we already have eternal life.

However, although our salvation is perfect, its out-working in our lives is a process. When we are saved, we are completely saved, however this is just the beginning. It still remains for us to bring our lives into conformance with that perfect salvation. Paul wrote, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13) There is a difference between coming to Christ and following Christ. We come to Christ and are transformed into new creatures in Christ; we walk with Christ and our New Man is renewed into His image. This working out of our salvation is a process that Clement calls regeneration.
"Thus believing alone, and regeneration, is perfection in life; for God is never weak. For as His will is work, and this is named the world; so also His counsel is the salvation of men, and this has been called the church. He knows, therefore, whom He has called, and whom He has saved; and at one and the same time He called and saved them." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 6)
Clement knew of no other conditions for salvation other than believing and regeneration. One being our introduction to Christ and the other our walk with Christ. Clement reminds us that God is not weak so as to call men to salvation and then fail to save them completely. God does not call us and then only save us in part. For just as God worked according to His will and created this world, so He saves according to His own wisdom and counsel and had brought forth His church. God not only has both will and wisdom but also the power to bring forth what He has willed and counseled. Isaiah spoke of God saying, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short that it cannot save." (Isaiah 59:1)
"'For ye are,' says the apostle, 'taught of God.' It is not then allowable to think of what is taught by Him as imperfect; and what is learned from Him is the eternal salvation of the eternal Saviour, to whom be thanks for ever and ever. Amen. And he who is only regenerated—as the name necessarily indicates—and is enlightened, is delivered forthwith from darkness, and on the instant receives the light." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 6)
What makes not only our salvation but also our knowledge and understanding perfect is that it comes directly from God. In Clement's day there were many philosophers and religious people who gained their knowledge and understanding from men. They were men taught by men. However, Paul tells us that we are taught by God. John goes even further saying, "As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." (1 John 2:27) We are not as those who are taught by men whose knowledge and understanding is imperfect, but we are taught directly by God whose knowledge is complete and impeachable, How can that which is taught by God be imperfect? His instruction is perfect and delivers the soul from darkness by the light of its truth. It is our directly relationship with God that sets us apart from those in the world and makes us special, even children of God.

David Robison

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