The word ‘deliver’ can, in different settings, be used with two totally different meanings. In one sense, ‘to deliver up’, means to hand over. The Lord Jesus for instance warns His disciples that ‘men will deliver you up to the councils’ and that ‘brother shall deliver up the brother to death’, Matt. 10. 17-21. In it’s second sense, the one used in the Scripture from which the above title is taken, it means ‘to save’ or ‘rescue from’. So Zacharias could include in his prophecy, the words, ‘we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies’, Luke 1. 67-79. When Paul was writing his second recorded letter to the church at Corinth, he was very obviously concerned with the thought of ‘being delivered out of’, showing such a deliverance as being an ongoing experience, covering past, present and future. That sequence is, for believers, precisely what is entailed in our salvation.
ONGOING SALVATION DOES NOT DENY ETERNAL SECURITY
But to talk of an ongoing salvation or deliverance might cause just a flutter of concern in some minds. What about the assurance of ‘once-for-all’ salvation, a salvation that once secured can never be lost? Paul is totally reassuring on that point. Linking himself with the Colossians by using the word ‘us’, he speaks with supreme confidence of ‘the Father … who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son’, Col. 1. 12-13. That deliverance is so complete as far as God is concerned that we have not only been released from one power but are already under the protection of another. This second power is so supreme that the Lord Jesus can say of His people, ‘I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand’, John 10. 28. Such fullness of salvation is how it was shown to the Ephesians. The apostle reminds them of a time when they were ‘without Christ … aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world’. Then comes that seemingly insignificant little ‘but’. ‘But now’ as opposed to then. ‘But now … ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ’. Just in case ‘brought nigh’ or ‘brought near’ is not firm enough for us, he goes on to say, ‘Now … ye are no more strangers and foreigners but fellowcitizens with the saints’. We are clearly inside the gates of the city, ‘and of the household of God’, brought into the very family circle itself, see Eph. 2. 12-13, 19. That most certainly is an unassailable position and unchangeably secured.
So don’t let the thought of an ongoing deliverance diminish one iota the perception and appreciation of the eternal security that is already yours, resulting from ‘the salvation which is in Christ Jesus’, 2 Tim. 2. 10. Let it rather widen your vision as to just how much that salvation involves, so that you may enjoy it the more on a day-by-day basis.
DAILY DELIVERANCES ARE A MATTER FOR DAILY PRAYERS
In Luke chapter 11, the Lord Jesus is talking to His disciples in very practical terms about prayer. Teaching them how to pray, vv. 1-4, that God, in grace, answers prayer ‘because of his (i.e. the petitioner’s) importunity’, vv. 5-10, and the measure and degree to which those answers meet day-today, down-to-earth needs, vv. 11-13. The early verses include what is often referred to as ‘the Lord’s prayer’, including the phrase ‘deliver us from evil’, v. 4, and in the context the reference is very obviously to ongoing experiences, so the request is for deliverance from current problems, pressures and difficulties.
Paul was very conscious of such everyday problems, which in one letter he describes as being ‘in perils of robbers … mine own countrymen … the heathen … false brethren’, 2 Cor. 11. 26. But in writing to Timothy, while still referring to ‘persecution and affliction’, he could say ‘but out of them all the Lord delivered me’. That this was not an instantaneous, once-for-all deliverance is made plain by the fact that the problems were repetitive, they occurred at place after place. ‘At Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra’, see 2 Tim. 3. 11. Nor did the apostle think that he would be alone in having such experiences. ‘Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’, v. 12. Timothy himself was warned, ‘watch thou in all things’ and encouraged to ‘endure afflictions’, even while continuing with ‘the work of an evangelist’, 2 Tim. 4. 5. So it was not then, nor is it now, a matter of not being subject to pressures but of being delivered out of them as and when they occur.
One other strand of the prayer in Luke 11 is, ‘Lead us not into temptation’, v. 4. But, we might perhaps say, whether we have prayed those exact words or not, we do seem quite often to find ourselves in testing circumstances. Well, if you do feel like that, remember the reassuring promise relating to such a situation. ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able’, which is not saying that you won’t be called on to suffer in that way at all, ‘but (he) will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it’, 1 Cor. 10. 13. Isn’t that present deliverance promised to you?
WE OUGHT NOT TO TAKE GOD‘S DELIVERANCE FOR GRANTED
But don’t think that because of such promises you can play fast and loose with testing. If you choose to make yourself subject to temptation by ‘sailing close to the wind’ or ‘skating on thin ice’ you cannot claim the promise or expect divine intervention. God knows your limitations but you don’t. His dealing with the Israelites when they came out of Egypt illustrates the point. ‘It came to pass when Pharoah let the people go, that God did not lead them the way of the land of the Philistines … for God said, that the people may not repent when they see conflict and return to Egypt’, Exod. 13. 17, God knew that they might fail such testing at the very commencement of their pilgrimage, so He kept them from it even though that meant a longer and more arduous journey.
But what of that journey, the new route He did lead them by? ‘The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to prove (test) thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no’. Just what was the intended outcome of such testing? ‘To do thee good at thy latter end’, Deut. 8. 2, 16. So don’t deliberately put yourself in a position of testing: this as with your deliverance from any such testing must be left to Him. He has promised that if you ‘call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee’, Ps. 50. 15.
Paul explains the reason for one particular problem period through which he passed as a time when he was ‘pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life’. But, he argues, it was allowed of God that, ‘we should not trust in ourselves, but in God’, 2 Cor. 1. 8-9. Accept then that you too will have to face problems and difficulties in your Christian experience, but at the same time consider the benefits that can flow from them when viewed in the right perspective. They are a means of directing your thoughts and your confidence away from yourself and centering them on the Lord Jesus, the One who has promised to be with you through them and to deliver you out of them, Heb. 13. 5-6.
WE LOOK ON TO A FINAL AND ULTIMATE DELIVERANCE
Having been thinking of a continuity of experienced deliverances, we can take encouragement too from the fact that Scripture makes it abundantly plain that there is a time coming when He ‘will also yet deliver’. That is a happening which will require no repetition, it will be a final and cataclysmic event. It is something to which Paul looked forward with aching and longing anticipation. We have received the Holy Spirit and He is referred to as ‘the earnest of our inheritance’, Eph. 1. 14, i.e., the guarantee of what would later be enjoyed in fullness. ‘Even we ourselves’, says Paul, ‘groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body’, Rom. 8. 23. When praying to His Father about His disciples, the Lord Jesus included the request, ‘I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but thou shouldest keep them from the evil’, John 17. 15. They were still in the world, just as we are, but He didn’t want them, or us, see v. 20, to be a part of the world system. Not being taken out of the world encompassed only a finite time scale, covered by what we sometimes refer to as the dispensation of grace. One day that period of grace will draw to a close. God ‘hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained’, Acts 17. 31. The Thessalonians ‘turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God; and to await his Son from the heavens, Jesus, our deliverer from the coming wrath’, 1 Thess. 1. 9-10 JND. There has been some dissension as to whether ‘the coming wrath’ refers to tribulation on earth, Matt. 24. 21, 29, or to the judgement at the great white throne, Rev. 20. In reality it means both, for neither will bother those that are safe in Christ.
This then is the final and concluding phase of deliverance to which believers can look forward with both gratitude and unassailable confidence.
John Newton, in perhaps the best known of his hymns, encapsulates the idea of a three-dimensional view of deliverance and attributes it altogether to God’s grace.’
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me’,
He knew that he was already saved, delivered.
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far’.
He had experienced ongoing deliverance throughout his stormy life.
‘And grace will lead me home’.
He anticipated, with assurance, a climax to his deliverance when,
‘I shall possess within the veil a life of joy and peace’.
A place where ‘there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain’, Rev. 21. 4. In consequence, there being no further need of deliverance, we shall be at perfect liberty to be fully taken up with ‘Jesus, our deliverer’, 1 Thess. 1. 10.
2 Cor. 1. 10. JND
The quotations in this artcicle are from
the ‘New Translation’ by J. N. Darby.