A correspondent in Westchester Co., N.Y., has desired our views on the latter part of this text, namely: “For, therefore, we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe.” Paul and Timothy were laborers in the church, or vineyard of their Lord and Master, but they did not labor on the principle which stimulates the Arminian teachers with which the world abounds. The latter labor because they do not trust in the living God. They often frankly confess that if they believed the doctrine which we hold, of God’s perfect reliability to do all his pleasure, in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, if they could trust implicitly in him to gather in all his elect, to build up and defend Zion, to cause the north to give up, and the south to resign, and by his own power and grace bring in all his sons from far, and all his daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one of them, because he has created them for his glory, that they would fold their hands in idleness, or give full vent to their wicked propensities and take their fill of sin. But that God may safely be relied on to do all that he has promised to do, and all that can be done for the salvation of sinners, they do not even profess to believe it, and they reproach us for believing his word, and for trusting all to his faithfulness. They labor, according to their own statement, because they do not, cannot trust in the living God; but we, upon the very opposite principle, do trust in him. As we have no confidence in the flesh, we have only our confidence in God, to stimulate us to labor and bear reproach. If we could give up our trust in the living God, and bow at the shrine of some imaginary gods, which have no vitality or reality, they would cease at once to reproach us, and extend to us most cordially the hand of fellowship.
The living God, in whom we trust, and at whose bidding we labor, is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe. Both in providence and in grace, the God in whom we trust is the only Savior. On his common or providential salvation, all the creatures of God are dependent. He saves from sword, famine and pestilence, from sickness and death. He only can cause the earth to bring forth food for men and beasts, and he alone can deliver us from temporal calamities; and in that sense he is the Savior of all men. Again, he being the only Savior, the only name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, he is the Savior of all who are saved, either temporally or spiritually.
But he is, in a special sense, the Savior of them that believe. Their believing does not save them, for then their believing would be their Savior, but their faith in him and their believing is an evidence that God is their Savior. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but neither their believing, being baptized, nor anything else that they can do, will save them, for by grace are they saved, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God, even of the living God, in whom alone they trust. Their special salvation not only delivers them from wrath, from sin, from pollution and guilt, from hell and from condemnation, but from all evil. Under his mighty hand all things work together for their good, and equally for God’s glory.
January , 1860.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 291 - 293