Vol. 5, No. 1
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Words are intriguing. They serve as the vehicles by which ideas and concepts are carried from the mind of one person to another. God has used these things that we call "words" to bring to our minds those things he would have us to know in order that we may be acceptable in his righteous sight. In the Book of 1 Corinthians, chapter two, Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit searched the mind of God, and that he revealed to man what God would have man to know from that well-spring of eternal truth that God has in his own mind.
Many of the words of God are very striking and we are immediately drawn to do a word study to try and learn all the nuances of those words so that we may better understand and appreciate Christianity. Others are words that we are very likely to pass over, thinking that we understand them sufficiently to get the meaning of a given text.
In the third verse of the Book of Jude, the half brother of our Lord spoke of the "common salvation." Because the word "common" in this text is coupled with the word salvation, one is almost immediately drawn to it wondering in what sense the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ can be thought of as "common." In Titus 1:4, Paul used the very same word in addressing Titus as his "true son in our common faith." Again, one cannot help but wonder how the faith revealed by our Lord Jesus Christ could be, in any sense of the word, "common," as we generally use the word today.
If we look up the word that occurs in the two references that we have just mentioned, we find that it comes from a Greek word which is spelled "koinos" in the English. While the word can mean earthy or profane, or what we mean when we say that something is "common," that is not the meaning of the word in the two texts mentioned above. As a matter of fact, the word in the texts above means, "that which is shared by all, or by several people." When Jude spoke of our salvation as being "common" he meant that it was a salvation that had been shared, even in his day, by hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps even millions. When Paul spoke to Titus of "our common faith," he referred not to something that was earthy or profane in nature, but to something that was, and could be, shared by thousands upon thousands of people all over the earth throughout the Christian era of time. The "common salvation," or "common faith," is that salvation and faith that has been prepared by God to be shared by all the people of the earth regardless of whether they are Jews or Gentiles. That is the very reason why Paul could tell the Ephesian Christians, in the fourth chapter of that book, that there is "one faith," just as there is one Lord, one Spirit, one God, etc.
The salvation that was found under the Law of Moses was not a common salvation because the faith that was found under the Law of Moses was not a common faith. That faith and that salvation were reserved for a very special class of people, which was the nation known as Israelites to whom the law was addressed and given. In contrast with this, the faith of Christ and the salvation which comes through Christ are not reserved for any special group or nation of people. They are designed to be shared by all men upon the face of the earth who will come to Christ by faith. This is the reason why all people have the potential to become "partakers of the divine nature" of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no need in the world for more than one faith because that faith has been designed by God himself to be a common faith, that is, one that can bring salvation to all who will accept Christ as Savior and Redeemer. There is no need for one faith for the white man, another for the black man, another for the Jew and another for the Asian. God has designed one faith to perfectly complete every person upon the face of the earth regardless of his color, his native land or his educational level. This is also the reason that the Word of God, which is revealed for us to believe and obey, is called "the faith." It is one in number and common in that which it includes, namely all men.
It is only by acceptance of "our common faith" and experiencing the "common salvation" that we can have the unity of which Paul spoke to the people of Corinth. When we realize that we are all saved by the precious blood of Jesus as a Lamb without spot and without blemish, we will also realize that our salvation is common, that is, that which has been experienced by all other saved persons; and when we realize that we are all saved by faith in the one and only Son of the Living God, that is, by a common salvation, it is then that we will realize all the wonderful things we have in common! Love and accept the common faith and let your faith in that faith cause you to experience the common salvation! Both the faith and salvation are here for everyone to share!