And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.…
1. We commonly speak of "salvation" as the state into which the believer in Jesus is introduced when he passes from death unto life; but here it means eternal glory.
2. Observe the date from which the apostle begins to reckon. He does not say our salvation is nearer than when we were christened or confirmed, but than when we believed. What could ever come of what is before believing? It is all death, and not worth reckoning. But then we started on our voyage to heaven.
3. Between these two points we are now sailing; and at the close of the year it seems meet just to note where we are, and to congratulate my fellow believers that we are nearer the eternal port that when we first slipped our cable. In going to Australia it is the custom to toast "Friends behind," till they get half way; and then it changes, "Friends ahead." Note —
I. THE THINGS BEHIND.
1. Recollect when you believed. Of all days that on which you first left shore was the brightest of all; and you know that those who go to dwell on the other side of the world look back with satisfaction at the day when they left.
2. Since then you have had a good number of storms. You have seen one washed overboard that you thought very dear. You have yourselves suffered loss; happy were you if by that you found peace and safety in Christ. You remember, too, when you had to sail slowly in the thick fog, and keep the whistle sounding. You have been nearly but not quite wrecked. Above all the billows Jehovah's power has kept you.
3. You have had a great deal of fair weather, too, since you left port. We have sailed along with a favouring breeze. Life is not the dreary thing that some men say it is.
4. Behind us, too, how many opportunities of service have we left? Many other ships sailed with us, and some of these, alas! have been wrecked before our eyes; but we had opportunities of bringing some of the shipwrecked ones to safety. Did we always do it?
II. THINGS AHEAD.
1. More storms. It is not over yet; but they must be fewer than they were.
2. Fairer winds. Christ will be with us; our communion with Him shall be sweet. There are these Sabbaths ahead, the outpourings of the Spirit, covenant blessings, etc. Let us, then, be comforted, and pass on.
3. More opportunities — and you young people especially should be looking out. Do not let us waste any more.
4. But looking still further ahead, when we remember we are nearer our salvation think of what that salvation will be. First, we shall see Jesus. Oh, what a heaven to be with Him! Then, next to Jesus, we shall be with all the bright spirits who have gone before us. I do not think Rowland Hill was at all foolish when he said to an old woman upon her dying bed, "As you are going first, take my love to the four great Johns — John who leaned on Jesus's bosom, and John Bunyan, and John Calvin, and John Knox, and tell them poor old Rowly will be coming by and by." I cannot doubt but that the message was delivered. Conclusion: There are some of you who are not nearer your salvation than when you believed; because, first, you never did believe; and, secondly, that which you are nearer to is not salvation.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.