The Way of Salvation, in Scripture Verse

by John Flavel

Since Adam was created just and good, that is to say, holy, righteous and immortal; and dominion given him over all the creatures which God had created; and whereas he did not long remain in this state, but has through the subtlety of the Devil and his own rebellion fallen from this excellent glory, whereby he has brought upon us the misery of temporal and eternal death.

This is the original sin of which David speaks in the 51st Psalm, saying, I was shaped in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me. In like manner Paul says to the Romans, That by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and death passed upon all men, for all have sinned. For as soon as Adam was thus fallen, he immediately came under a certain curse, as we read in Genesis, where God says, Cursed is the ground for your sake, in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life, in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken. For dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.

Whence we certainly know, that all things which receive life, must die at last. This David clearly testifies, saying, What man is he who lives, and shall not see death? For Solomon says, The living know that they shall die. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. And to the Hebrews, That it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this comes the judgment. For as the Scripture says: We must needs all die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. For our days are like the days of a hireling, and swifter than a post. And we pass away like a stream, yes like a leaf which the wind drives away, and a withered stalk and a garment moth-eaten. For the dust must return to the earth, as it was, and the spirit unto God who gave it; as Job says, We are ashes and must return to ashes. Likewise James says, That man's life is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Yes our time passes away as a cloud and is consumed like a mist, and vanishes as a shadow. And Peter also says (quoting from Isaiah), That all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of men, as the flower of grass; the grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away. Again one says, This is the old covenant, you must die—the one today and the other tomorrow, like as green leaves upon a tree, some fall off, and others grow again. Thus it goes with mankind, some die and some are born. As Solomon says, To everything there is a season, a time to be born, and a time to die.

And this time is in the hands of the Lord, as Job says, Man has his appointed time, the number of his months are with him, he has appointed our bounds that we cannot pass. Which Paul also says, That God has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. And David says, That our days are as a hand-breadth by the Lord, and our age is as nothing before him.

How vain are all men who live so unconcernedly? For our days are lighter than a weaver's shuttle, and swifter than a post. Moreover, we are here only pilgrims and strangers for a short time. For the days of our years are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength, labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. And when we live long, we live a hundred years. As drops of water are to the sea, so are our years to eternity. And Peter says, That one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, even so are our years to eternity. Whereas then we must all die, according to holy Scripture.

Who would not earnestly wish for death, when we behold in what state and ruin we are plunged through Adam—namely, in all unrighteousness, misery and trouble; inasmuch that we are wicked, and inclined to wickedness from our very infancy. For as Paul says, We are by nature the children of wrath, and reprobate unto every good work, having nothing of ourselves but sin. And David also says, There is none that does good, they are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy. For the good that we would do, we do not, by reason of sin that dwells in us.

Of this inherent sin, David witnesses, That we are conceived and born in sin, and proceed in the same. For the inclination of men's hearts is to evil from their youth. Since we thus lie under the wrath of God, and in the shadow of death, yes in Hell and damnation, therefore Christ the light of the world appeared unto us, and the sun of righteousness is risen. He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification, and has also quickened us when we were dead in sin, and has forgiven us our sins, and blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and took it out of the way, and nailed it on the cross. Whereby he has triumphed over all our enemies—as death, Satan, Hell and the curse of the law, as God has spoken by the Prophet Hosea, O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has also (according to the promise of God) bruised the head of the Devil, in whose power we were kept captives, by reason of the transgressions of sin.

God to the end that he might deliver us therefrom, has given us his dearest pledge, namely his only beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased, and commands us to hear him. Whom he has given for a atoning sacrifice and a ransom. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son; that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Also in this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. And this is life eternal (says Christ), that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. He is the true Messiah, who came into the world in the fullness of time, true God to crush the power of the Devil; and true man to be our mediator before God, that he might deliver those who were captive under the law.

He is that lamb without blemish, that was wounded and offered for our transgressions, to be an atoning sacrifice for all our sins, as Isaiah clearly testifies. And he who was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich; for he has given unto us, all his benefits, all his righteousness, merits and holiness.

Therefore we must embrace him in faith, and be thankful to him with love and obedience. And who would not love him who first loved us? In that when we were yet his enemies, he delivered and reconciled us—then how much more being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life? For how can one have greater love, than to lay down his life for his friends? Which Christ as a good shepherd has done, who has been obedient to his Father, unto death, even the death of the cross, and was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor—that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Also he is the true Samaritan who has poured oil and wine in our wounds, that is to say, he has poured out his precious blood or our sins, and bought us with such a precious price. For we are not (says Peter) redeemed with gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. For we are not redeemed by the blood of goats or calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us!

He has also delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have the redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.

Since we certainly know this, that we only obtain eternal salvation, without our merits (for we have none, wherefore we are unprofitable servants), through the death and resurrection of Christ, we must therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. And since we always stand in need of help, we must go unto him; for he says, by the Prophet David: Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you.

And although a mother might forsake her child, yet will I never forsake you, as Christ himself says in the gospel: Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest, and you shall find rest unto your souls.

To whom else should we go? He has the words of eternal life, and life is made manifest in him. He is that heavenly manna, which eternally satisfies our souls, that heavenly bread of which he who eats through faith, shall never hunger, and whoever drinks of his blood shall never thirst.

Again Christ says by the Apostle John, Let him that is a-thirst, come and take the water of life freely. He who believes on me, as the Scripture has said, out of this belly shall flow rivers of living water, which are the operations of the Holy Spirit: Whoever drinks of that living water, shall never thirst, for the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

As God has said by the Prophet Isaiah, Ho, everyone who thirsts, come you to the waters, and he who has no money, come buy and eat; yes come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Therefore let us go to this fountain for our refreshment, and not to broken cisterns which contain no water. For of his fullness have we all received grace upon grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

He is the true mediator who stands between God and us, to be our advocate against all our accusers. For there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. For this cause he is also a mediator of the New Covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they who are called might receive the promise of an eternal inheritance.

Therefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, who come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for us; with which the Apostle John agreeing, says, If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Namely for all peoples and nations of the whole world, who sincerely repent and turn themselves to God. For the lamb was slain, from the beginning of the world for believers, as Christ himself says, That Abraham saw his day and was glad.

Thus we see that God is no respecter of persons. For God is not only the God of the Jews, but of the Gentiles also. Namely he is a God who justifies the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. For he has justified us by faith, without the deeds of the law, after which manner David also speaks, that salvation is only come unto the man to whom God imputes righteousness without works, where he says, Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have a certain access into the holy place by his blood, whereby he has made peace between God and us. For he is our true peace, therefore we have nothing to fear. For Paul says, If God be for us who can be against us? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies—who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?

Therefore though we have the daily actual and other sins remaining in us, we must not despair. For the Prophet Isaiah says, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. And this is done through Jesus Christ, who has washed away our sins by his blood, of which baptism is a sign; and the Lord's Supper is a token unto us, that we are redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ once offered on the cross, that he might deliver us from the wrath to come, and all iniquity; and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works, by which the Lord may be praised.

We then knowing for certain, that we are reconciled to God by Jesus Christ, ought (according to the word of God) to have an earnest desire of being delivered from this mortal body, by which we must come to that glorious inheritance of all the children of God, which is prepared for us in Heaven. This, Paul, that chosen vessel of God, desired, when he says, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Moreover he says, We know that if our own earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, eternal in the heavens. For in this body we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon, with our house which is from Heaven, and we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. Therefore we are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Again Paul says, We know that the whole creation groans with us, and not only they, but we ourselves groan within ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, waiting for the adoption, namely, the redemption of our body.

And since we are pilgrims and strangers, who would not desire to be at home in his native country? For here we walk in absence, and in faith, but not in sight. For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face, as he is. Who would not long after this sight, since we see that the holy men of God have craved after it? As we read in the 42nd Psalm, As the deer pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after you, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say unto me, where is your God? This unutterable glorious sight of God is so great (as the prophet says), That eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. Again David says, that a day in the courts of the Lord, is better than a thousand; yes I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God, than to dwell long in the tents of wickedness. How amiable are your tabernacles, O Lord Almighty! Blessed are they that dwell in your house; They will be still praising you. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of your house, and you shall make them drink of the river of your pleasures. For with you is the fountain of life, in your light shall we see light.

This is the delightful mansion, of which Christ spoke by John, In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there may you be also; namely in the new Jerusalem, which has no need of the sun, neither of the moon, for the glory of God enlightens it, and the lamb is the light thereof.

There God will wipe all tears away from our eyes, and death shall be no more. Which is the last enemy that God will trample under his feet.

There God has prepared a glorious wedding, where we shall sit at the table of the Lord together with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; blessed are they who are called to this wedding or supper. We cannot come to this supper by any other means than through death, therefore Paul says, For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

As soon as the faithful depart from hence, they enter into eternal rest, as Christ says, Where I am, there shall also my servant be. Again, He who hearth my Word and believes in him that sent me, has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. Which is also plainly to be observed in the dying malefactor, when he prayed and said, Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom. Upon which Christ answered him, Today shall you be with me in Paradise. Therefore Paul justly said (agreeable to this), I desire to depart and to be with Christ.

Solomon likewise says, That dust must return to the earth as it was, and the spirit unto Goad who gave it. Which also evidently appears in the example of Enoch and Elijah, who were both taken up into Heaven, where our citizenship and conversation is—from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.

We cannot arrive to this state of glory, unless through such tribulation, of which one elegantly speaks: My son (says he), if you come to serve the Lord, prepare your soul for trials! In which you shall also rejoice, you who has for a short time, mourned with much trials.

But the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while will make you perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. Again Paul says, If so be that we suffer with Christ, we shall also be glorified together. For the sufferings of this present time, are not to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us. For our affliction is temporal and light, but works an eternal and exceeding weight of glory.

And David said, Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Therefore rejoice, that when his glory shall be revealed you may be glad also with exceeding joy! Christ has also suffered outside the gate, therefore let us also go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For herein has Christ left us an example, that we should follow his steps.

Again Peter says, forasmuch then, as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind. For he who suffers in the flesh ceases from sin. Moreover the Apostle James also says, My beloved brethren, count it all joy when you fall in manifold trials. And Paul likewise says, We glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation works patience, and patience, experience; and experience hope, and hope makes not ashamed. For which reason we must not despise the chastening of the Lord, when we are rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and he scourges, every son whom he receives.

Be therefore patient, and establish your hearts, for the coming up of the Lord draws near. Take also the prophets for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. We count them happy which endure, for we have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, who has left us an example of perseverance. For we see that Christ for the suffering of death, has been crowned with unfading honor. Therefore Christ also says, He who endures to the end shall be saved.

And the Apostle Paul says, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord shall give me; and not only to me, but unto all those who love his appearing.

Likewise James says, Blessed is the man that endures temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love him.

To obtain this crown of righteousness, we must manfully fight against all our enemies, who attack us on all sides. Particularly against the wiles of the Devil—against which put on the whole armor of God, with which you will be able to withstand the Devil and all his might. Peter speaking of his fight says, That the Devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour! Whom resist steadfast in the faith, and he will flee from you. This victory and resistance we have of God through Christ, who tramples the Devil under our feet, in whose power and bonds we were bound. He is the prince of this world whom Christ has cast out; and we have likewise through him obtained the victory, and are also through faith made partakers of him. He is the old serpent who seeks to devour us as he did devour our first parents, and who still bites us in the heel, therefore he is called a murderer from the beginning. Therefore we must be diligent on our guard against his wiles as Peter says, Be sober and watch unto prayer.

For as Christ says, We know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Lord will come. But this you know that, if the good man of the house had known in what hour the thief would come, he would have watched. Be ready therefore also, for the Son of Man will come at an hour when we watch not, but begin to beat our fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, then the Lord will come and cut us in sunder, and our portion will be with the hypocrites; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, there the worm never dies, and the fire is not quenched.

For we certainly know that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, when we shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction will come upon us, as travail upon a woman with child. Therefore take heed to yourselves lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare, or as lightning which comes suddenly, shall it come on us all.

Watch therefore and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand undaunted before the Son of Man.

But this worthiness to stand before the Son of Man consists in a pure undefiled and immovable faith which works through love, by which we receive and embrace Christ with all his merits and benefits. Which faith we must show by a pure life, as James says. And of this purity Christ speaks by Matthew, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

The principal purity lies in the heart, for as Christ says, Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness and blasphemies; these things defile the man. Therefore the fruits of the Spirit follow, which are, love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, chastity, righteousness, and truth.

Therefore unless we are born again, we cannot see the kingdom of God. Yes as Christ says, Except you repent and become as children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. There shall nothing enter into it that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie, as Paul likewise clearly testifies.

Since then the law of God requires this perfection of us, as it is written, Cursed is every one who does not keep the whole law; as James also says, Whoever offends in one point, he is guilty of all. Again, whoever does the law, shall live by it. But we do not keep the least commandment perfectly. As the wise man says, When we imagine to have done, we only begin (and in case we did do it, we only do our duty), therefore we are by the law condemned in God's righteous judgment; for this we have a sure remedy and cure, namely Christ who has redeemed us from the curse of the law, and has satisfied the righteousness of God for us, making reconciliation. He has broken down the wall which was between us, namely the law, contained in ordinances, and forgiven us our sins, and torn the handwriting of them, and nailed it to the cross!

For this great love of Christ, we ought also to love him, and to be thankful to him, with good works, and verily to believe in him, for the gift of these excellent benefits. For he that comes to God, must believe that he is a rewarder of those who seek him; for the just shall live by his faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.

And although we suffer a little with Christ, we must not despair, for we see that Christ himself when he was smote for our sins, did not smite in return, but suffered patiently. And if the ungodly live in great prosperity, as David and the prophets testify, we must not marvel, neither stumble, but comfort ourselves, being assured that their end is everlasting damnation. He lets them go as sheep to the slaughter. Therefore it is to be wondered at that the faithful meet with still more crosses in comparison to the glorious joy which is prepared for them, and on the contrary, that the ungodly have still more prosperity, than they have, in comparison to the dreadful damnation which attends them.

Therefore if the trial of believers is not alike, so neither shall the resurrection of the dead be alike. And in this we have great comfort, that all believers will rise at the last day; of which Paul reasoning, says, If the dead rise not, then is not Christ risen, then is our preaching vain, and we are found false witnesses of God.

The manner of our resurrection we may read in the 37th chapter of Ezekiel, how that we shall rise with flesh and bones. And Job also says, I know that my redeemer lives, and will hereafter raise me up out of the earth, and that I shall be covered with my skin, and in my own flesh, shall see God. Likewise the Prophet Isaiah says, that the earth and the sea shall give up the dead which have slept in them, for Christ is the resurrection, the first of those who slept. But you must not be ignorant concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not even as others, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those also who sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him; for this we say as a true word of God; that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not go before those who are asleep, for the Lord himself, shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.

Where we must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Where every one will receive according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad. Then Christ will separate the sheep from the goats, and the sheep will be set on his right hand, who shall hear the delightful voice, Come you who are blessed, inherit the kingdom of my Father prepared for you from the foundation of the world. There we shall stand with greater confidence against those who have distressed us. Then we shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father, there we shall come to the hope of an innumerable company of angels. There we shall reign from eternity to eternity, Amen.

Blessed are those whose names are written in the Book of Life!