SALVATION DIFFICULT TO THE CHRISTIAN, IMPOSSIBLE TO THE SINNER.
September 15, 1852
by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
Text.--1 Pet. 4:18: "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the
ungodly and the sinner appear?"
From the connection of this passage, some have
inferred that the apostle had his eye immediately upon the destruction of
Jerusalem. They suppose this great and fearful event to be alluded to in the
language, "For the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of
God; and if it first begin at us, what shall be the end of them that obey
not the gospel of God?" This may refer to the destruction of the city and
temple of God's ancient people, yet the evidence for the opinion does not
seem to be decisive. A reference to the event is possible and even probable.
We know that when Jerusalem was destroyed, not one Christian perished. They
had timely notice in the signs Christ had already given them, and perceiving
those signs in season, they all fled to Pella, on the east of the Jordan,
and hence were not involved in the general destruction.
But whether Peter refers to this particular event or not, one thing is
plain: he recognizes a principle in the government of God, namely, that the
righteous will be saved, though with difficulty, but the wicked will not be
saved at all. It is plain throughout this whole chapter that Peter had his
mind upon the broad distinction between the righteous and the wicked--a
distinction which was strikingly illustrated in the destruction of
Jerusalem, and which can never lack illustrations under the moral and
providential government of a holy God.
The salvation of the righteous, though certain, is difficult. Though saved,
they will be scarcely saved. On this basis rests the argument of the
Apostle;-- that if their salvation be so difficult, the sinner cannot be
saved at all. His salvation is utterly impossible. This is plainly the
doctrine of the text. It had a striking exemplification in the destruction
of Jerusalem, and the passage, as I have said, may or may not have reference
to that event. All students of the Bible know that this great destruction is
often held up as a type or model of the final judgment of the world. It was
a great event on the page of Jewish history, and certainly had great
significance as an illustration of God's dealings towards our sinning race.
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Date: 03 Dec 2010
Because Finney says, more than once, that this passage "may or may not" refer
to the destruction of Jerusalem, I do not think it is appropriate to
categorically classify him as a futurist. He may or may not interpret this
particular passage in a preterist manner, but that does not, in any way,
justify the assumption that he is therefore a futurist.