the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
In his first letter to Timothy the apostle Paul makes the curious statement, we hope on the living God, who is Savior of all men, especially of believers (1 Timothy 4:10b). According to this passage, some aspect of salvation in Jesus Christ may be enjoyed by those who do not claim him as Lord and Savior. To the modern Christian this hardly seems possible. We think of salvation as the saving of a soul from hell and the promise of eternity in the presence of the holy Trinity. There is nothing wrong with this definition – as far as it goes. The problem is it doesn't go far enough.
Strictly speaking, salvation means to be saved, delivered and preserved and the term is often used in the Bible to denote something other than deliverance from damnation. Thus when the Bible speaks of salvation it refers to a comprehensive reality. Scripture does not limit the salvific work of God to the “saving of souls from hell.” Instead, it teaches about a salvation that touches every aspect of life. Indeed, “salvation” refers to the entire process of delivering a man from all that prevents him from enjoying the good things God has prepared for him. Moreover, “salvation” intends the actual enjoyment of that good.
Only the man who has placed faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sin will experience the fullness of salvation. Only the one who embraces a familial relationship with God in Jesus will experience the fullness of salvation. On the other hand, anyone in close proximity to the faithful believer will experience salvation as well
If you lived next door to a drug user who beat his wife and children, let his property run to ruin and kept you awake at night with loud music, you would probably find yourself hoping the man would pack up and leave. But what would happen if you shared the gospel with him and he came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior? If he were born-again you would see a change in conduct. If he attended a church teaching the whole counsel of God he would be told he must serve his family in a Christlike fashion. He would be informed that a true follower of Christ must think of others more highly than himself. He would be taught he has a responsibility to love God and his neighbor and that love is defined by God's law. Therefore, you would expect him to treat his wife and children with gentleness. You would anticipate he might clean up his property and show courtesy to his neighbors by keeping it quiet at night. You would look forward to his getting off drugs and finding a job. In short, if the man were born-again he would become a benefit to his community rather than a detriment.
But it wouldn't stop there. If the man were properly discipled he would look for ways to minister to those outside his family. As a former drug user, he might volunteer at a rehab center. As his finances were brought under control he would look for ways to help others in need. Therefore, by a variety of means the salvation of one man would improve his own life and the life of others.
The Bible tells us that all the promises of of God are yes in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). Hence, as Christians bring their life and arena of activity under the authority of Christ, all the promised blessings of obedience are realized in society. Imagine a town populated by people who embrace the kingdom with all their heart and strength. Think what it would be like for those in the town who did not know Jesus. Plainly they would benefit from the resulting peaceful and productive community. Everyone benefits when families, businesses, civil governments and so on are brought under the lordship of Jesus. In this way, God is the savior of all men.