SALVATION | Have been Saved, Being Saved, Will be saved?

Paul discussed salvation in three sentences. Some people argue we have not been saved yet, some people argue that we are being saved and therefore we must work for that salvation. Some people teach that we have been saved.

Paul talked about all of this and the confusion is often results of a poor understanding of Paul’s letters. Let’s look at the three tenses and see what the Apostles teach.

We have been saved – Justification

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” Ephesians 2:8 NIV

The moment we accepted Jesus, we accepted his promise of life. “…Whosoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This doesn’t mean we already have eternal life when we believed, it means we will receive eternal life when we believe to the end which truly marks a true believer. If you don’t believe to the end, you never believed, you never belonged to us.

On this level, what we received is the promise of eternal life and the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) is given to us as a guarantee of this promise. Apostle Paul writes

“Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:5 NIV

The Holy Spirit was given to us as a down-payment of what is to come. We have always been taught that we have received eternal life, I have always taught so too but a clear investigation of the scriptures and the doctrines of the Apostles handed over to us indicates that what we have received is the promise and we have been guaranteed that we will receive the eternal life when the time comes.

This doesn’t invalidate what we have been taught previously. In elementary school, some things are not taught in-depth. For example, we were taught that primary colours are blue, red, yellow and black but when I went into the graphics industry, I realised that the definition of colour is deep and that primary colours are cyan, magenta, yellow and black in the CYMK mode, it gets deeper in the RGB mode.

It didn’t invalidate what we were taught previously tough, it made it clearer. The previous teachings were just basics to give us a foundation.

Concerning eternal life, we have been given eternal life, we already have it in a sense, it is ours but this life is in Jesus and what we have taken possession of is the Holy Spirit which is a guarantee that we will fully receive what is to come. John tells us:

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” – 1 John 5:11‭-‬12 NIV

In verse 10, we see that we accept this testimony when we believe in Jesus. I looked up the meaning of testimony in the dictionary and here is what I found

“A solemn declaration usually made orally by a witness under oath in response to interrogation by a lawyer or authorized public official”

The Greek word used in the verse we read is “μαρτυρία” (marturia) which has very closer meaning to the above definition. Now, we can see that when we believed in Jesus, we accepted God’s “legally binding will” which indicates that God will never go back on his promises. This is why we were given the Holy Spirit as a guarantee, a commitment from God to prove that he will keep his promise.

So, this level of salvation is that level where we received the promise of God’s gift of eternal life. However, at this level, there are several other gifts we have received by the Holy Spirit.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” – 1 Corinthians 12:4‭, ‬7 NIV

The gifts we received is for service and the common good of believers. In Christ Jesus, we have been saved, it has happened already and we have been sealed with the seal of the Holy Spirit.

We are being saved – Present

Paul teaches of salvation that is past, present and futuristic. While we’ve seen earlier that we have been saved, Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV

While we have been saved in the past, on the cross of Calvary, which we received by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, salvation didn’t end with the past event. Salvation is what God has done in the past which still works in the present in making us who God wants us to become. We are on a journey of perfection and we’ve never got past it!

God’s salvation which we have received is working itself out. This second tense of salvation is God’s process of delivering our minds from the power of sin. We have been justified, we have been made right with God and there is no indication in God’s word that we will lose it and perhaps apply for a second salvation.

When Paul wrote about being saved, he was talking about our sanctification which is an ongoing process. This process happens as we walk in the light of the gospel, as we keep renewing our minds every day and as we enforce God’s word in our lives. Jesus said

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31‭-‬32 NIV

We are being sanctified as we hold on to Jesus and if at any time, we reject the gospel and the salvation that Jesus brought, it means we never believed at first, it invalidates everything we have ever claimed. It shows that we weren’t truly the disciples of Jesus. As we know Jesus and walk in him who is the truth, we are emboldened in our faith and through knowledge, we express true freedom in Christ.

It is at this stage that we can truly know who is a believer and who is not a believer. Anyone who follows Jesus to the end is a believer and anyone who fell off at some point and denounced Jesus from his heart truly never believed regardless of what he or she has done in the past with the name of Jesus. Jesus prayed

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” – John 17:17‭, ‬20 NIV

We are sanctified by the truth and Jesus is that truth. As we keep beholding Jesus through his words as taught by the Apostles, we are being sanctified. Paul wrote:

“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:13‭, ‬15 NIV

We must insist on the truth and stand on the truth. Remember, the truth is the word and the word is Jesus.

We will be saved – Glorification

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

The last verse we read in the second section indicated “…to be saved”. This is the last phase of salvation, it means the completion of the process where we are glorified in the same way that Jesus was glorified and crowned with honour.

Salvation is a process that began by believing in Jesus and receiving his gift of salvation. We continued in the light by standing firmly on this truth and we saw that anyone who truly wasn’t convinced never believed and can not stand firmly on this truth.

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” – Romans 5:9‭-‬10 NIV

Our salvation is not under negotiation, we are completely saved and we have assurance from God that we will be completely saved even to the utmost. As we have read previously, now we read yet again

“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:13‭, ‬15 NIV

On that day of salvation, that is, when the process of salvation will be complete, Paul explains what will happen. Let’s read:

“In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:52‭-‬54 NIV

At the present, we are considered heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. An heir is one who is entitled to an inheritance, an inheritance is something that is yet to be acquired. In sharing with Christ’s suffering, that is, holding on to what Jesus had done on the cross, we will also share in his glory. This is the completion of the process of salvation, the perfection of that which God has begun.

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:16‭-‬17 NIV

In summary

The beginning of it is justification. This is where we believe! The continuing part of it is where we hold and stand firmly on what we believe. When we stop believing, we truly never believed and the completion of it is where we are glorified. Paul writes:

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place” Ephesians 6:13‭-‬14 NIV

As we await for that glorious day of salvation, we rejoice in the Lord knowing that we have been saved from darkness, sealed by the Holy Spirit and separated unto God for his own glory.

I call you blessed.

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