1 Corinthians 15:2
Precisely rendered, the first sentence of this verse would read, "By which also ye are being saved." St. Paul applies, in his writings, the best corrective to the imperfect, and indeed false, notion that human redemption is a thing completed, a thing done outside of and separate from men, a something which they are to receive as if it were a mere gift provided for them apart from their own exertions. St. Paul clearly saw that redemption is a moral work; its proper sphere is a man's mind and heart and life. It is a process, and it has to be carried on right through a man's earthly history. There is a sense in which it may be said that we are saved, but there is a much truer and deeper sense in which it may be said that we are being saved. One of the most striking expressions of the Pauline idea of salvation as a present process, carried on within us, is found in Romans 5:10: "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Some adequate notion of the Pauline thought of salvation may be obtained by dwelling on the following three representations: -

I. THE BEGINNING OF SALVATION IS THE RECEPTION OF THE GOSPEL. Observe how the Christian teachers first demanded faith in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the beginning. We must accept of Jesus as the Sent of God, the Son of God, and the Saviour from sin. That beginning may be

(1) intellectual, - a persuasion, upon due evidence, that Christ is the Saviour; or it may be

(2) emotional, - a constraint of love to him who condescended, bore, and suffered so much for us, and whose personal history is such a fascination. Here is the initial stage, "Dost thou believe that Jesus is the Son of God?" You cannot be on the Christian platform at all unless you can give to that question a simple and hearty affirmative. But this is only a beginning. A man is not saved upon such a faith as that. There must be advance to spiritual apprehension of the relation in which Jesus stands to the individual and the individual may stand to him.

II. THE STATE OF SALVATION IS STANDING IN THE GOSPEL. It is apprehending that the Lord Jesus Christ has, by the perfection of his obedience and the sublime merit of his sacrifice, made a new standing ground before God for us. That he represents us. That he wins a place before God, and a relation with God, for us. That his personal rights are not exclusively personal, but are rights which he shares with us, or allows us to share with him, and we are "accepted in the Beloved." In the presence of law claim, we stand as "justified." In the presence of God's claim to perfect obedience, we stand, in Christ, as righteous. In the anticipations of a judgment day, we stand as already acquitted; for us "there is now no condemnation."

III. THE PROCESS OF SALVATION IS GIVING THE GOSPEL FREE ROOM TO WORK IN MIND, AND HEART, AND RELATIONS, AND LIFE. The gospel being conceived, not primarily as a set of principles, and duties, and counsels, but primarily as the spiritual and abiding presence of the Lord Jesus Christ with us, using truths, principles, experiences, duties, thoughts, and counsels, as need be, for the carrying on of his gracious work of moral perfecting. "This is the will of God, even your sanctification;" and we lose the holiest interest in that sanctification when we fail to realize that the Lord Jesus Christ is now actually present with us, carrying on and presiding over this work. We are being saved; and the exceeding solemnity of our common everyday life lies in this - Christ is in it, working at our salvation. The apostle therefore urges upon us that we must hold in quick and living memory the gospel of the present, working Saviour - risen that he might carry on to its full completion his redemptive work - and that to believe in vain is to profess belief, but give the faith no power to open our soul and life to the redeemings of the risen, living, and ever-present Saviour. - R.T.

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you.
In these words we have a discovery —

1. Of men's utmost happiness — salvation.

2. Of the only means for the attaining of it — the gospel.

3. Of the special grace necessary in respect of this gospel — believing.

4. Of the particular faculty that is requisite for this end — the memory.

5. The relation, or influence, which this last hath upon all the rest.And this expressed —

(1)By way of condition, "Ye are saved, if ye keep in memory."

(2)By way of exception, "Unless ye have believed in vain." Note —

I. WHAT THE MEMORY IS. It is that faculty of the soul wherein are reserved the things we know. Its office, however, is —

1. To receive such things as are presented to it. Wherin it is fitly enough compared to soft wax, which is prepared to receive any impression made upon it.

2. To retain and preserve what is laid up therein. There is a little kingdom in the soul of man. The king, or rather viceroy, is the will, the privy council is the understanding, the judge is the conscience, and the great treasurer is the memory.

3. To recall or recover what was out of mind.

II. THE EXCELLENCE OF THIS FACULTY. The soul of man is a subject of wonder, and nothing more wonderful in it than the memory. It hath power to make things that are in themselves absent and past to be present. We may see the worth of this faculty by those that are deprived of the use of it, that can remember nobody, nor the last question that they did ask. All a man's past life would be lost if his memory were lost; so are the comforts of the soul lost so far as they are forgotten.


1. In remembering those things which we should forget. As —(1) Things unprofitable; like as if one should crowd waste-paper, rags, and broken pitchers into a cabinet, which should be stored with things of value.(2) Things hurtful. To wit, injuries; these usually stick in the memory when better things slip out.(3) Things sinful. We can remember a filthy story seven years when we do forget a saving sermon in seven hours. The depraved memory is herein fitly compared to a sieve that lets the good corn fall through and reserves only the chaff. Themistocles said to Simonides, when he offered to teach him the art of memory, "Rather," says he, "teach me the art of forgetfulness, for the things which I would not I remember, and cannot forget the things I would."

2. In forgetting those things which we should remember.(1) Our Creator, and what He hath done especially for us (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Jeremiah 2:32). This is most inexcusable (Acts 17:27, 28). And then the great things which He hath done, to wit, in the works of creation and providence, especially for His Church, these we easily forget, but should remember (Psalm 77:11); and particularly what He hath done for us (Deuteronomy 8:2).(2) Our Redeemer and what He hath suffered for us. Else He had never instituted the Lord's Supper on purpose to keep up the remembrance thereof.(3) The truths of religion, especially the most weighty (2 Peter 1:12-15).(4) The duties of religion (Exodus 20:8; Hebrews 13:2, 3, 16). All which, as they show our duty, so do they imply our defectiveness herein.(5) Our sins (Ezekiel 36:31; Deuteronomy 9:7).(6) Our vows and obligations to God.(7) The Church of God (Psalm 137:5, 6).(8) Our latter end (Isaiah 47:7; Lamentations 1:9).

IV. THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE MEMORY. Which is the restoring of this faculty to its former integrity and to its proper objects. This is done —

1. By purging the faculty. And so conversion is said to begin here (Psalm 22:27; Revelation 2:5).

2. By strengthening it. For as sin weakens, so grace strengthens, the faculty (John 14:26).

3. By reconciling it to good things, and setting it against evil (Psalm 119:16).

4. By filling it with good things (Matthew 12:35).

5. By fitting things laid up in memory for use and practice (Numbers 15:39, 40; Psalm 103:17, 18).


1. A weak or dark understanding.

2. A carnal, careless heart. Such a heart can retain abundance of a play or a song, but of a chapter or sermon next to nothing, for everything keeps what is connatural to itself. Nay, a good man's memory in a remiss, negligent frame, quite differs from what it was in a religious frame.

3. A darling sin. Any bosom sin, as it fills and employs every faculty, so it debauches, monopolises, and disorders them all. Grace, though it rule every faculty, yet ruffles none; it composes the mind, and employs the memory in a rational manner.

4. Excess of worldly cares. The memory is but finite, though capacious, and a superabundance of worldly thoughts within must needs shoulder out better things that should be there.

5. Surfeiting and drunkenness. These disorder the brain and disable it from its functions (Proverbs 31:4, 5).

6. Violent passions.

7. A multitude of indigested notions. If a man have a stock of methodical and digested knowledge, it is admirable how much the memory will contain; but many read or hear too much for their capacities, they have not stowage for it (2 Timothy 3:7). He who rides post can never draw maps of the country.


1. Natural.(1) A sober diet. For if excesses in meat and drink do disturb the brain, temperate diet, together with a good air, is a certain help to the memory (Luke 21:34).(2) A quiet mind. For if all passions that are violent weaken, then a sedate and quiet mind greatly strengthens, the memory.

2. Artificial or outward.(1) The repetition of those things which we would remember (Deuteronomy 11:18, 19).(2) Writing what we would remember (Deuteronomy 11:20).(3) Custom, or using your memories. We say, "Use legs, and have legs"; and so, Use the memory, and thou wilt have a memory.

3. Spiritual.(1) Repentance for forgetfulness.(2) Bewail your forgetfulness.(3) Prayer. For "every good gift and every perfect gift," whereof this is one, "is from above."(4) Diligent attention. If the mind wander in hearing the memory will be weak in remembering.(5) Due estimation. The more we love and admire anything the better we remember it (Psalm 119:16).(6) Serious meditation. When people read or hear, and presently plunge themselves in foreign business, then generally all is lost (James 1:24, 25; Psalm 119:11).

VII. And so I come to APPLICATION.

1. Magnify God for your memories.

2. Let ministers consult people's memories, and to that end observe some proper method in their books and sermons.

3. Labour to improve your memories.

4. Store your memories in the time of youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1). A new ship is free from leaks, but time and travel will batter it.

(R. Steele, A.M.)

calls it the scribe of the soul; and Bernard the stomach of the soul, because it hath a retentive faculty, and turns heavenly food into blood and spirits.

(T. Watson.)

It was the remark of John Newton, when his memory had almost completely gone, that he could never forget two things.

1. That he was a great sinner.

2. That Jesus Christ was a great and mighty Saviour.

If you have learned to look under your feet every day while young, and to cull the treasures of truth which belong to geology, natural history, and chemistry; if every fly has furnished you a study; if the incrustation of the frost is a matter, of interest; if the trees that come in spring, and the birds that populate them, the flowers of the meadow, the grass of the field, the fishes that disport themselves in the water — if all these are to you so many souvenirs of the working hand of your God, you will find, when you come into old age, that you have great stores of enjoyment therein. Let me therefore recommend you to commit much to memory. When a man is blind his memory is not blind. I have seen many a man who in youth had committed much to memory from the Scriptures and hymns and poems, who was able, in old age, to recall and recite what he had learned, and to fall back upon those treasures, his own head having thus become to him a library. Oh, how much a man may store up against old age! What a price is put into the hands of the young wherewith to get wisdom! What provisions for old age do they squander and throw away! It is not merely that you may be keen and strong now; it is not for the poor ambition of being esteemed learned that I urge you now to lay such treasures up; but because it is just and right and noble that you should be intelligent, and because your whole life is interested in it, and your old age pre-eminently so.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Unless ye have believed ill vain
1. A terrible peradventure to have believed in vain. To have spent a week, to have risked money, to have loved or chosen a profession in vain, is dreadful, and has driven many to despair, crime, and suicide. What shall we say, then, of having believed in vain; of having staked eternity on a delusion and a lie?

2. There are four phrases in the Greek thus rendered in A.V.(1) "In vain do they worship Me," — i.e., idly, foolishly, falsely — "because their heart is far from Me."(2) "Then Christ is dead in vain," i.e., gratuitously, wantonly, without return.(3) "That ye receive not the grace of God in vain" — unto emptiness.(4) "Have ye suffered so many things in vain" — are all your endurances for Christ to be forfeited or stultified by departure from the truth?" "Lest I should have bestowed upon you labour in vain."

3. The word may have had in it, originally, the idea of seeming, as opposed to reality. But in its use it carries the sense of a thing done by chance, at haphazard, not deliberately. Here are two possibilities in one.


1. To believe in vain may be to believe a lie. There are those who say that sincerity is everything. If a man be but sincere he must be in the right. His opinion may be false, his hope a dream, his faith a fable, yet if he is sincere he cannot have believed in vain. St. Paul was of another mind. Truth as well as sincerity went with his religion. With him the text meant primarily, "Unless the object of your faith be a nullity." I transmitted to you, he says, a definite body of doctrine based on a series of fact — is it true? Some parts no one doubts — the death and burial. The miraculous part is the resurrection, which can only be proved by evidence — the evidence of eye-witnesses. Those who knew Christ saw Him alive after certain proof of His death.

2. Those who reject this evidence tell us to be of good cheer, for there is nothing lost. The resurrection is spiritual, and Christ risen means Christ immortal, successful, progressive, influencing the world by His pure ethics or bright example. But Paul is not satisfied with these airy nothings, and says that if the resurrection of Christ be not true those who believe in Him have believed in vain. Their faith is a random faith — they have not waited to see that its foundation is strong (vers. 12-15).

II. A DEFECT IN THE BELIEVER. The faith may be true and yet the belief of it unsound.

1. You may have taken for granted the faith of your family or your country, like the Samaritans, who "believed because of the saying of" another. If you had been born amongst Hindoos for the same reason you would have been such still. There is nothing of conviction, will, soul in your belief. It is no tribute to the truth. There needs in you just that step which was expressed in the Samaritans who said, "Now we believe... . for we have heard Him ourselves."

2. You may have believed in vain because you have walked carelessly and never sought to, reproduce the mind of Christ in your lives. "Why call ye Me Lord, and do not the things which I say?" How foolish that invention of our times which would apply the microscope to the feeling and the telescope to the life! which would hang all the hope on the warmth with which we can say, "Jesus is all," and divert every anxiety from consistency of conduct! There is a random believing which has made haste after safety, and has forgotten to fight. Take seriously your besetting sin, and count nothing done till in the name of the risen Jesus you are victorious over that.

(Dean Vaughan.)

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