“What do sorrow and repentance have to do with salvation, and why would anyone repent of being saved? (II Cor. 7:10).”
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of…” (II Cor. 7:10).
There are different kinds of salvation in Scripture. Paul spoke about the salvation of our souls (Eph. 2:8,9), but he also spoke about his physical salvation from prison (Phil. 1:19 cf. Ex. 14:13). Additionally, he advised Timothy that if he would continue in Pauline doctrine he would “save” himself from the misery that always comes from not continuing in Pauline doctrine! (I Tim. 4:16). There is also the salvation from despair that the hope of the Rapture gives (Rom. 8:23,24), and the Rapture itself is called a salvation (Rom. 13:11).
The salvation in our text is yet another kind. In the context, Paul says he made the Corinthians sorry “with a letter” (II Cor. 7:8), i.e., his first epistle to them, in which he rebuked them for not disciplining the man living in fornication (I Cor. 5). They then “sorrowed to repentance” about this (II Cor. 8:9). The word repentance means to have a change of mind, and they changed their mind about allowing the fornicator to continue in their midst. This “saved” them from the dangerous leavening effect that his presence would otherwise have among them, and so their godly sorrow worked repentance to salvation, a salvation Paul assured them they would not regret or repent of later.
It also worked another kind of salvation among them, one similar to the salvation Paul references in I Corinthians 5:5, where he speaks about the fornicator and tells them,
“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”
In context, we know that delivering the man to Satan meant putting him out of the assembly (v. 2,13). Letting him wallow in sin might destroy his flesh, but it would bring him back to the Lord, and “save” him from a loss of rewards at the Judgment Seat (I Cor. 3:15). The Corinthians would likewise be saved from such loss by their obedience to Paul’s instructions. Their sorrow worked this kind of repentance to salvation as well, another salvation they would not regret, of course, for no one at the Judgment Seat will ever repent of having done the right thing.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.