A Compendium of Christian Theology

By William Burt Pope, D.D.,

Volume Two

Chapter 18

The State of Salvation



            As seen in General Terms

            In the Spirit's Application of the One Atonement

            In Union with Christ

            In the Perfection of each Blessing as Meeting the whole Estate of Man

            Terminology of Internal and External Blessings Diversity in Unity

            Righteousness, Sonship. Sanctification

By the state of salvation is here meant the circle of evangelical privileges which constitute the estate of believers in Christ and are imparted by the Holy Spirit. It is the grace, in which they stand, as distinguished on the one hand from the preliminaries of vocation, and, on the other, from the ethical duties of religion: being the issue of the former and the foundation of the latter. These privileges are variously described as pertaining to personal Righteousness, to Christian Sonship, and to the Sanctification of the Spirit: each of these being both external and imputed, and internal and real. But, while thus distinguished, they must be regarded also as one great covenant blessing of personal salvation: one as the common gift of grace, imparted by the Spirit's administration, in Christ Jesus, under various aspects. We must first study them in their general unity and then individually as distinct


Personal salvation is one great gift: this may be shown by the terms used to describe it; by the simultaneous impartation of its various blessings through the Spirit to faith; by the relation of all to union with Christ; by the completeness with which each meets the relative and real position of the believer; and by the harmony of the several privileges in the reception of the one Atonement. It is important to keep this unity in mind, to obviate the error of unduly refining upon the distinctness and the order of the several component gifts of saving grace


There are some general terms which are used to describe the blessings imparted under the Christian covenant as they are one in their diversity. These terms are taken from their relation to God the Giver; and from the result in those who receive them

1. All are summed up as the Grace of God;1 as the Grace of God that bringeth salvation;2 as the Gift by grace;3 especially as this Grace wherein we stand.4 A careful examination of these passages will show that one word GRACE includes the whole compass of the blessings of the covenant in Christ: the first as the source, the second as the universal benefit, the third in its most perfect realization. Upon this is based the distinction sometimes made between the three estates of nature and grace and glory: the middle term expressing all that lies between the access by faith into an accepted state and the entrance into life eternal. Hence the circle of privileges is sometimes termed Acceptance with God: perhaps as founded upon the words accepted in the Beloved,5 or, with which we were graced in the Beloved. There is nothing superinduced on nature and preparatory to glory which is not found in grace. But it has been already seen that the state of nature is not without the influence of a certain measure of grace

1 2 Cor. 8:1; 2 Tit. 2:11; 3 Rom. 5:15,16; 4 Rom. 5:2; 5 Eph. 1:6

2. The unity of these blessings is expressed by some terms taken from the human side, or the result of their bestowment. Thus we read of the Common Salvation,1 where, as in very many other passages, such as by grace ye are saved,2 all the Gospel promise and gift is meant. Sometimes the whole Divine method of economy of grace is connected with the common gift: the Gospel of your salvation,3 the Word of this salvation.4 The privileges of the New Covenant are thus summed up as one; to be afterwards variously resolved into their component elements of sanctification, remission of sins and renewal unto life. Again it may be said that sometimes each of these several great blessings received by man stands for the compass of his privilege: Sanctification in the High-priestly prayer and the Epistle to the Hebrews, has this wide significance; just as Righteousness and the restored Sonship have in St. Paul's and St. John's writings. The compendious word Life5 sums up in passages too many to quote the entire gift of God through the mediation of Christ: it combines all that is negative and all that is positive in one term, perhaps the largest used in the New Testament. The same may be said of the Kingdom of God6 within us; as also of the Earnest7 of the Spirit imparted to believers. And, as will be more fully seen hereafter, the Atonement8 received is the epitome of all the blessings that flow from the Word of Reconciliation9 into the soul. Finally, all is the Promise in Christ by the Gospel10 of which we are partakers. It is impossible to study these various central words in their manifold connections without feeling that each is intended to describe the estate of grace as one

1 Jude 3; 2 Eph. 2:5; 3 Eph. 1:13; 4 Heb. 7:14,15; 5 Acts 5:20; 6 Rom. 14:17; 7 Eph. 1:14; 8 Rom. 5:11; 9 2 Cor. 5:19; 10 Eph. 3:6


This Unity is further seen in the fact that the Holy Ghost administers every blessing as the special application of the Atonement

1. As to Himself in His relation to the Finished Work of Christ He is the Keeper of the mysteries of the cross; as our Lord said He shall take of Mine.1 The accomplished redemption is His treasury, out of the inexhaustible fullness of which we all receive at His hands. He is at once the Administrator of its external blessings, the Agent in imparting its internal, and the Witness of both. It is not meant that He dispenses all the provisions of the Covenant at once. But the Communion of the Holy Ghost2 is the common enjoyment of the grace of Christ imparted as the result of the Father's love in redemption. To receive the Atonement is to receive its various blessings, at least in their beginnings, at once. Justification is the reversal of a sentence at the bar; Adoption is at the same moment the reversal of a sentence that excluded from the inheritance of the Divine family; but neither can be received apart from the renewal of the soul into the new life of God and its Sanctification to His service. And all these acts are simultaneous benefits of one and the same Grace in Christ. They are all the personal application of the one sacrificial obedience to the faith inwrought by the Spirit Himself. He reveals and attests the forgiveness of sins, He reveals and inwardly persuades of the adoption of sons, and He seals the believer for God: all these at one and the same moment. And all these acts of witness He continues ever as the abiding personal seal of interest in the great redemption

1 John 16:15; 2 2 Cor. 13:14

2. It is quite consistent with this that there is an order of thought which demands a distinction among these blessings. They belong to different relations: they are not homogeneous. Justification is perfectly distinct from adoption: the former is pronounced by the Judge, the latter by the Father. Regeneration belongs to another category: the new and filial life, though a free gift accompanying justification, is most intimately connected with adoption, which is the adoption of sons.1 It is congruous both with reason and with Scripture to say that the regenerate children are as such adopted; and that the adopted must needs be regenerate. It is hardly reconcilable with either that the witnessing Spirit of adoption is, by that witness, the Agent of regeneration. Though the testifying Spirit is the inworking Spirit, the two operations are distinct. The love enkindled in the soul when the Divine love is shed abroad is the firstborn fruit of the Spirit2 of life, not the instrument of effecting it. Life is deeper even than love. And, finally, sanctification belongs to an entirely distinct order of thought from regeneration. Regeneration is not sanctification begun, in any other sense than justification is; nor is sanctification regeneration continued in any other sense than it is continued righteousness. In fact it involves an altogether independent idea: that of the consecration of the soul, justified and regenerate, to God

But of this more hereafter

1 Gal. 4:5; 2 Gal. 5:22


The Gift of the Spirit leads to Union with Christ; and in this mystical union all the high benefits derived from the Source of blessing are one. To be IN CHRIST and to have CHRIST IN us are throughout the New Testament convertible terms; but this reciprocal indwelling is mediated by the Spirit common to the Head and His members: we are ONE SPIRIT with Him if we have become members of His mystical body. He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit.1

1 1 Cor. 6:17

1. Now all the prerogatives of the estate of grace are ours in virtue of our union with the Lord; each of them in particular is distinctly referred to the same source. Generally, we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (or things) in Christ.1 As treasured up in Him above, and our inheritance there, they melt into one indistinguishable blessing. But as the Spirit dispenses them to those who are united to Jesus on earth they are diverse, though still one in their diversity. Our fellowship with Him or in Him is our righteousness, whether as imputed justification or inherent conformity with the law. In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins;2 we are made the righteousness of God in Him.3Our Christian sonship is based upon the same union, whether it is adoption or regeneration: we are one with the Firstborn among many brethren.4If any man be in Christ, it is a new creation;5 and this new creation is a filial creation. He is our life; and we are quickened together with Christ6 by God, Who hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.7 Our consecration to God and interior holiness have the same ground and guarantee. Believers are sanctified in Christ Jesus.8

1 Eph. 1:3; 2 Eph. 1:7; 3 2 Cor. 5:21; 4 Rom. 8:29; 5 2 Cor. 5:17; 6 Eph. 2:5; 7 Gal. 4:6; 8 1 Cor. 1:2

2. Thus union with Christ, incorporation by His Spirit into His mystical body, makes all the blessings of the Christian covenant one in Him. And this precious doctrine, the first declaration of which our Lord Himself uttered, pervades the New Testament. St. John gives the record of the Saviour's great saying, reserved for the last hours of His teaching, Abide in Me, and I in you;1 which was glorified in His prayer: that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us2 . . . I IN THEM, and Thou in Me. And he has one echo at least of these very words: Hereby know we that we dwell in Him and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.3 But St. Paul, who was not present when the Savior spoke to His disciples this word, has more than any other writer made it the signature of personal religion, especially of his own personal religion. To this note the Epistle to the Philippians is set; in it this union takes an unlimited variety of forms. But it is in the Epistle to the Galatians that it has its boldest utterance. There, and there alone, it has the character of a mystical, or, as is sometimes said, ethical or moral union with the Saviour's death. Thrice the Apostle speaks of crucifixion with Christ. First of his fellowship, and that of every believer, with the virtue of His death to the law: I through the law died unto the law, that I might live unto God, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in the faith in the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.4 Here is Union with Christ's death and with His life as if both were his own through the mystical identification of faith: being dead with His Lord to the sentence of justice, he lived the life of justification. But that new life is itself the whole fullness of privilege in Christ. Secondly, he reverts to the same idea, peculiar to this Epistle, for the sake of showing that the regenerate life is fellowship with the virtue of His death to sin: They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.5 Here the union is the continuous mortification and death of the old man or the corrupt nature, signified by flesh, still remaining in the believer. Thirdly, he returns back to himself, and exults in his sense of fellowship with the virtue of His death to the world and all in it that keeps the soul from God: By Whom the world is crucified unto Me, and I unto the world.6 It were easy to show that here justification, regeneration, and sanctification, each a perfected ideal realized, are signified; that each defines for itself the whole Gospel privilege; and that all are not indistinctly based on the union of the soul by faith with the dying and the risen Savior. This for the present life; in the life to come the glory to which they lead, and for which they prepare, is in like manner the blessedness of union with the Lord: to be found in Him7 is the Apostle's utmost aspiration

1 John 15:4; 2 John 17:21,23; 3 1 John 4:13; 4 Gal. 2:19,20; 5 Gal. 5:24; 6 Gal. 6:14; 7 Phil. 3:9

3. This doctrine has been perverted in two ways. First, by those who resolve it simply into union with the Church and the fellowship of Christ by a genuine Christian profession: a style of interpretation which reduces the IN always to BY, in defiance of sound grammatical exegesis. Secondly, by those who interpret this mystical union with Christ as only the sovereign bestowment in time of a prerogative eternally decreed for the elect; as if salvation had been absolutely and unconditionally provided in Christ for those given to Him before the world was by the Father. But, rightly understood, there is no aspect of the common salvation more wholesome in its influence than that which makes it the fellowship of His death and life enjoyed by those who are regarded as suffering and crucified and risen and ascended with the Redeemer


I. There are two ways in which we may consider the unity of the great salvation of the Gospel: we may regard it as a series of bestowments of which one perfects the remainder: or we may regard each as full and complete under one special aspect. According to the former view there is first a discharge from guilt in justification, this word ending its function there, or being supplemented by adoption. The new birth is simultaneous, with its fruits and privileges. But all flows into the state of perfectness through a progressive sanctification which is entire at length and consummate. According to the latter view the unity of the blessings of the Christian covenant may be illustrated by the completeness with which each meets the twofold category of our estate as sinners: that of a position before God, and that of an internal character. The grace of redemption must needs meet both requirements. Each of the main privileges of Christianity perfectly responds to the sinner's need whether as relative or internal. His righteousness is, on the one hand, a justification in which God does not impute sin; and it is, on the other, an infused grace through which the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in him. His sonship is similarly the adoption which places him in the relation of a child, and the new birth which makes him such. His sanctification is the external sprinkling which takes away the hindrance to his acceptance on the altar, and also the internal purification which cleanses him from all sin

Now each of these blessings makes provision for the consummation of the soul's religion under its own particular aspect: there is perfection in the presence of the law, there is perfection in the regenerate life, and there is perfection in holiness to the Lord. These points will be hereafter dwelt on

II. Meanwhile, it may be useful to consider some of the theological terms that denote the distinction above referred to, and the proprieties of their several application

1. We find it necessary to speak of ABSOLUTE and RELATIVE blessings: being more exactly counterpart terms than Relative and Real, though these two are often used, and the latter perhaps avoids a certain unconditionalness which clings to absolute. The believer's privileges are all of them inherent gifts while all of them are relative: they do now and will for ever affect his relation in the sight of God, while they are now and will hereafter more fully be the absolute possession of those who receive them: they are FREELY given, but they are freely GIVEN to us of God.1 The same truth is expressed by three other pairs of counterparts, which explain their own meaning: EXTERNAL and INTERNAL, DECLARATORY AND IMPARTED, IMPUTED AND INWROUGHT

1 1 Cor. 2:12

2. It is obvious that FORENSIC and MORAL, as correlatives, have not so wide an application. The former belongs to the judicial court or forum, where only the absolution from guilt is received: it has not to do with sanctification, nor with adoption, unless this term is supposed to be derived from the usage of Roman law. There is a forensic justification alone; and that only in the present life; for, while the righteousness of the perfected saint will be through eternity a matter of imputation—his past sin being an everlasting fact—the court in which it is pronounced is not within the gate of heaven. It may be added that the term Imputed is conventionally limited to justification, and the term Declaratory to adoption: we speak with more propriety of an imputed righteousness than of an imputed sonship, which is the gracious declaration of the Father. And, further, though theological language generally limits the term sanctification to the internal process, it may be said also to be imputed or declared or external. But forensic of course it cannot be

3. Some other correlates may be noted, not so obvious in their meaning. The blessings of the covenant are IDEAL as they are exhibited in all their perfection in the charter; REALISED or ACTUAL as they are the general experience of Christians: this finds its illustration in St. John's unsinning regeneration: whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;1 and St. Paul's testimony that God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places In Christ.2 They are UNCONDITIONAL and CONTINGENT at once: the former to the Church of the elect as foreknown in Christ, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world;3 the latter to its militant members in probation bidden to make their calling and election sure.4

1 1 John 3:9; 2 Eph. 1:3; 3 Eph. 1:4; 4 2 Pet. 1:10

4. It will be hereafter seen that all these several correlative terms have their uses; that the peculiarities of Romanist and Calvinistic and other errors have much to do with their perversion; and that therefore a precise valuation of their meaning is important, both to the theologian and to the preacher. Meanwhile, the fitness with which each blessing surrounds the whole estate and conditions of the believer's life shows that the covenant salvation is but one in its diversity


We have no better illustration of the unity which reigns in the diversity than is to be found in the diversity itself. There are no saving benefits conferred in the Christian covenant which are not connected with one or other of the three terms: Righteousness, Sonship, Sanctification. Synonyms are found of each in considerable numbers; but these are the governing formulary words, which rule respectively over wide spheres of Evangelical phraseology. While each embraces the entire estate of personal religion, and provides to present every man faultless in Christ in its own domain, they are as distinct in themselves as the terms imply; belonging respectively to the Judicial Court, the Household, and the Temple of Christianity

I. RIGHTEOUSNESS presides over the Gospel as administered in the Mediatorial Court

There God is the Righteous Judge: Christ is the Mediator of a covenant of forgiveness, having offered an atonement in which the idea of satisfaction to Divine justice as the guardian of law is prominent, and in virtue of which He, as the Righteous One, is an Advocate. In that court the ungodly and the sinner appear in their special character as condemned by the law. Repentance there is simply conviction of sin and confession

There the sentence of forgiveness, or remission of penalty, and justification, or acceptance as righteous for Christ's sake, is pronounced. And the witness of the Spirit is the declaration to the conscience of pardon: giving the absolved sinner to feel that there is no condemnation. That court also demands the guarantee on behalf of everyone who is absolved that in him shall be fulfilled the righteousness of the law. All that the New Testament says concerning righteousness, throughout the whole of the stem family of terms belonging to it, is consistent with the great idea that the Gospel is administered in a court of supreme, rigid, exacting and perfect justice. Righteousness is written on its doorposts, behind its Judge, and everywhere. The two ideas of imputation and impartation are inextricably interwoven; and make the everlasting distinction between this tribunal and every human figure of it. All is judicial from beginning to end. None of the terms we have been using can be transferred, strictly speaking, to either of the other departments. To sum up: the God who presides is only a Judge: He does not pardon as a Ruler and justify as a Judge; there is no sovereign act apart from the judicial. Both in this world, and at the threshold of eternity, the Gospel is a judicial economy

II. SONSHIP is the centre of the Christian privileges which belong to the filial relation of believers to the Father in Christ. Here the whole terminology changes. The people of God are a family, in a House where the Redeemer is the Elder Brother, the Firstborn among many brethren, the Mediator of a covenant of reconciliation rather than satisfaction. The sinner is admitted as a prodigal: his regeneration is the new life given by the Spirit of Christ, and his adoption is his reinstatement in all the privileges of the household of God

The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of adoption: His testimony being internal, not so much spoken to us as spoken in us, witnessing together with our regenerate spirits and enabling us to call God Father. There no law reigns save the law of internal love; and the perfection of the Christian character is that more abundant life from which sin in act and in root has vanished. Its blessing is the filial blessing; its holiness is the imitation of the Firstborn; its food is the life of Christ pledged in the sacramental feast. It is the central and the supreme department of Christian privilege, to which alone it is said that we were predestined: to be conformed to the image of His son,1 and unto adoption as sons.2

 1 Rom. 8:29; 2 Eph. 1:5

III. SANCTIFICATION is the blessing imparted to believers as they are admitted into the presence and service of the God of holiness in His temple. The sinner here seeks entrance as defiled and inwardly corrupt. In the Christian temple the Savior is the High Priest, and owns no other name. He is the Mediator of a covenant ratified now, not by satisfaction nor by reconciling love, but by an expiatory sacrifice. The sprinkling of His blood removes the bar to acceptance on the altar, and the witnessing Spirit impresses the silent seal of consecration, which is His own personal indwelling in the unity of the Father and the Son. This blessing is the deliverance of the soul from all that is contrary to the pure service of God in His shrine. Perfection is here entire sanctification. The love which in the Court is the fulfillment of law, and in the House conformity with the Living law and image of the Beloved Son, is here the spring and energy of entire consecration

IV. It needs no proof that all these blessings are really one under different aspects. The sinner absolved in the Court is by the same act received in the Family and consecrated in the Temple. The Judge, the Father, and the God are One. The Advocate, the Son, the High Priest are One. The penitent who stands at the bar, who is met as a prodigal at the door, who approaches the altar of consecration with only defilement in the soul which he comes to give back to God, is one and the same penitent. The Spirit Who witnesses TO the conscience, WITH the spirit, and as a seal ON or IN the heart, is One Spirit. The perfection of each is the same perfection; and the door of each opens into the eternal Presence of God