Salvation is a Process
Matthew H. Allen
Have you ever thought about the number of terms associated with salvation? When we speak of salvation, we are referring to a process by which mankind is delivered from eternal punishment in hell. “Redemption,” “sanctification,” and “justification” all describe different aspects of salvation. In scripture, salvation is described as a process. When a person is convicted by the gospel, realizes their condition outside of Christ, and moves to respond to God’s terms of grace, scripture says they are saved. We might refer to this part of salvation as “deliverance.” When we respond with faith, repentance, confession, and baptism, God delivers us from the grasp and ownership of Satan.
Not only have Christians been delivered or ransomed from their former trespasses and sins, but they continue to be saved while anticipating the final reward of heaven. We are preserved for salvation on the final day as long as we are committed to working out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). While we live in this life, we are being sanctified. Sanctification is the process of becoming holy, 1 Peter 1:15-16. It is time spent in living for God, being completely dedicated to Him, where we are transformed and renewed into God’s kind of person (Romans 12:1-2). During this time, we do not remain sinless, but upon realization of sinful activity, we have the responsibility to confess and seek forgiveness from God (1 John 1:8-10).
Finally, the scriptures also speak of a future salvation. This is the future deliverance of believers at the end of time. Peter writes about a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5). This salvation can be viewed as a future deliverance from the wrath of God, which will be executed on the ungodly at the end of the age (1 Thessalonians 1:10). It is also interesting to study how the Holy Spirit uses the word redemption to describe what will happen at the return of Christ. In Romans 8:23, Paul writes: “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” What does Paul mean by “the redemption of our body?” At the return of Jesus Christ, our bodies will be freed from their physical limitations. We will put on a spiritual body and become as He is (1 John 3:12). The Christian can trust in God to be raised to his salvation...or life eternal! This hope is through Christ. Paul taught that it is Jesus who was given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:14).