OUR SALVATION NEARER
Please read the above passage before reading this message. I have chosen to center our thinking around verses 11, 12, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” This exhortation, as you will readily perceive, is not addressed to people in the world who do not know God. He is not speaking to those who are dead in sin but those who were made alive in Christ, but they had fallen asleep, spiritually speaking. The apostle said to Christians, “It is high time to awake out of sleep.” Not literal sleep but spiritual sleep. They should have been spiritually awake or active, doing the Lord's will but they weren't. These Christians were the heirs of salvation, but they were in danger of losing their eternal inheritance, prepared for them that love God.
It will help us to understand the text by attending to what Paul said in the first ten verses which led him to make the statement, “It's time for you wake up for you know what time it is for now our salvation is nearer to us than when we first became Christians.” In the verses preceding our text, Paul has been bidding the sons and daughters of God to pay attention to their Christian duties. As members of civil governments we are to be obedient citizens. Submit yourselves, he said, to all who are in authority, for civil governments are ordained of God. The design of Civil government is to promote the security and the well-being of its citizens. Obedience to civil authorities is a fundamental requirement of the gospel.. Therefore pay your lawful taxes and render fear to whom fear is due and honor to whom honor is due. Let honesty characterize your life and pay all obligations you may owe to others. Paul goes on to say that the ten commandments taught us how we should treat others, and most of those commandments can be summed up in one sentence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” After exhorting them on these particular duties of the Christian life, he then uttered the words of our text, “ And this let us do.”. The word “this” refers to all the Apostle has just been enjoining. The meaning is, Let us be obedient to all ruling authorities; let us pay taxes; let us love our neighbors; let us do all these things because we know what time it is. Let us do this because we know the time, and because you know the time it should awaken you from your spiritual drowsiness and careless living. This is no time for Christians to be asleep. The most important word in this text is the word, “time.” Everything else revolves around that word. If they knew what the time was, and they should be able to know.
Next, let us direct our attention to the text itself, and the first word to be examined is this word, “time.” Paul said, “knowing the time.” Time as used in this passage was something they knew. Time here does not refer to the second coming of Christ or the end of the world. The coming of Christ was not near for them then, and 2,000 years have passed since Paul made this statement, and He still has not come. It is obvious that the second coming of the Lord was not near to those Christians two thousand years ago. The time which they knew was a time period in their lives which should have motivated them to faithful Christian living. What time is this in our lives life? Where are we in life's journey? It is a great mistake for a man or woman to be unaware of the time Paul mentioned in this passage.
The time of which Paul spoke that all had knowledge of was the time of life, and more specifically how much time they had left before they must pass from this world to another world. What Paul is saying here is, “ knowing the time how long you have left to live, it is time to wake up and be diligent in performing your duties to God.” Some might say, “We don't know how long we will live? How can we know what time it is in our life? No one knows the time of their death. “ It is true no one knows the exact time of death, but the word of God has given a time limit to human life. Scripture reveals there are three limits of life: the average limit; the providential limit, and the natural limit. Psalm 90:10-12 says, “The days of our lives are seventy years, and if by reason of strength they are eighty years; yet their boast is only labor and sorrow for it is soon cut off and we fly away. “ The average limit of life is seventy; the providential limit is 80, and no one knows precisely what the natural limit is-- somewhere over one hundred.
Moses added these words of advice: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” We can number our days to some extent. Just subtract your age from eighty or ninety, and that will tell you what time it is in your life. Someone has said, “It is just three miles from the cradle to the grave-- childhood, manhood and advanced age..” James, the Lord's brother made a statement that describes life which includes the most advanced age to which man may attain: “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away”(James 4:14). This was James way of saying that however long life may be, it is brief; it is short, and it is uncertain. Paul was writing to adult Christians, and in view of the fact their lives was drawing to a close, they needed to be active in the service of the Lord and should be conducting themselves as wide-awake, God-loving people. Paul is saying, “It may be later than you think.”
Paul elaborated further on the subject of time by saying, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” The words night and day are used here figuratively. He was not speaking of a single day and night that Christians in Rome were going through. A spiritual application is made of night and day. The day is used spiritually to mean the day of eternal salvation. The word night is used of our time of waiting for that day to come. The Christians in Rome were waiting for the day of salvation to come, and Christian today are also waiting for the day of salvation to come. In this figure of speech, since the day of salvation has not yet come, it is still night time for Christians. So to speak, we are waiting during the night for the day of salvation to dawn. That is the figure of speech used in our text. But Paul says, “the night is far spent and the day is at hand.” That is, it is close. It was close for the Roman Christians, and it is also close for us who live to day. The day of salvation was close to Christians who lived 2,000 years ago, and the day of salvation is close to Christians who live in 2005 A.D.
How can this be? In what sense can it be said that Christians in Paul's day were living in the night-time and Christians today are living in the same night-time? It all depends on what the word “night” means in this passage. What is this waiting period we are all in, waiting for the day of salvation to dawn. What is the time of darkness we are all in as we await the day when eternal life becomes a reality?. Night here signifies the entire period of our lifetime. Night here is the period of human existence. All of our life we will wait till the day dawns.
But in what sense are we living in the night? We are living in a world of spiritual darkness. The word of God says of Jesus, “In Hm was life, and the life was the light of the world; and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Peter said that God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. The world in which we Christians live is a most complicated world; it is light and dark at the same time. In the kingdom of Christ there is light; in the church we are dwelling in the sunshine. But outside the church there is utter darkness. Jesus explained it like this, “This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” In our text Paul said, “Let us put off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Folks, we live in a dark world, and outside of the Christian religion the blackness of darkness prevails. We must be careful and not fall in love with the darkness of the world, but we are greatly tempted to do so.
With this background of knowledge on the darkened condition of our world, I think I can now explain to you what this passage means. When Paul says, “the night is far spent, ” the meaning is that the night of your life is far spent. Many of those Christians in Rome were adult Christians and with each passing day the end of their life in this dark world was drawing to a close. Moreover, in less than ten or so years the city of Rome would be destroyed with a great fire, and the cause would be blamed on Christians. The most terrible Christian persecution in the history of the church was waged by the Roman Empire in the days of Paul and continued throughout the first century. Truly for many Christians young and old in the Roman Empire, . the night was far spent in their lives. Many Christians met an untimely death. Both Paul and Peter lost their lives in this persecution. The night of life was far spent for both these men
If night means our lifetime on earth, what did Paul mean by the words, “the day is at hand.” The night is far spent and the day is at hand.
What is this day? It is the day of our salvation, the day that Christians are translated into the joys of the righteous dead, the day they pass from this world into the next world, the day they pass from earthly life to paradise-life. This day is not is not when Christ shall return to earth. The day of salvation is the day we complete our earthly life and enter that place where all the faithful dead go between death and the resurrection. Our salvation begins at the moment of death. To say the day is at hand is to say it is near or close. Paul said the day was near to Christians 2,000 years ago, but Jesus did not come. Therefore His coming was not near at that time.
It can be truly said of Christians today and in all generations to come, “The night is far spent and the day is at hand.” Please notice that Paul said, “Our salvation is nearer than when we believed.” It is time to awake from sleepiness and drowsiness and indifference because our salvation is closer than when we became Christians.. In order of time we are closer to our salvation. How long has it been since you were baptized and entered the service of Christ? Ten years? Then you are ten years nearer to salvation. There can be no doubt that Paul associates salvation with the time of our departure from this world. That is when it all begins. Some Christians are twenty-five years. nearer their salvation than they were. Ought we not be more awake, more devoted to Christ; more faithful to Christ; more active in the church? Shall we go sleep now with the golden gate right before us? . That is what Paul was saying to those Christians and to us. Some Christians are even sixty years closer to salvation than they were .They have been in Christ for more than half a century. Do you
suppose they would like to live those sixty yeas over again?. Would they like to go back and tread that weary road a second time? No, I think not. Anyway, they need not fear the return journey, for they shall not go back again. Rather, they should rejoice that they are so much nearer to paradise, so much nearer being with Christ in the matter of time. With the passing of every day, every month and every year, our salvation becomes nearer. This day to the young in Christ may be more than half a life time away, but it is till at hand. The longest life is so short. We cannot with the greatest effort get ready for this day too soon. So near is it, that even the most active in Christ have none too much time to prepare for it. It is at hand, and let us all be warned. The older we become the more active and enthusiastic we should become about Christ and His church. I think Paul was writing to many Christians who had lost their enthusiasm for the Christian religion and had become indifferent and careless
I think the most significant thing that can be said about 2005, or any other year of our life, that we are one year nearer to our salvation. Salvation as Paul used the word in the text does not refer to heaven because we do not go to heaven at the time of death. We go to paradise where all the faithful dead go and remain between death and the resurrection. We do not go to heaven until the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the return of our souls to our new immortalized bodies.
Finally, it seems to me that Paul was giving a word of comfort and hope to these Christians when he said, “Knowing the time, that it is high time to awake out sleep for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed..” Since our eternal salvation begins at the time of our passing, it suggests that something wonderful is going to happen the moment our earthly life comes to an end. Paul's message is, “When your life ends, your salvation begins.” What a comforting thought! I believe that a whole world of new knowledge awaits us at that time. This puts a new slant on death. Death is not a pleasant thing to think about, but these words of Paul do not suggest the idea of mourning but of gladness. Paul himself said it is far better to depart and be with Christ than to continue to live on this earth. To enter a new world, a new state of existence, a new state of enjoyment is a most exciting thought. It sounds like it will be a most enjoyable experience. I believe that at that time, we will experience a vast increase of knowledge and understanding that was not available to us in this world. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Don't put off your obedience any longer. Today is the day of salvation. If you have any questions, call the number on this website.