In the Christian theology of salvation, there are three tenses: past, present and future.
We have been saved when we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord—past tense, referred to as our justification.
We are being saved as we follow Jesus and He is transforming us to reflect the image of God. This is a present tense salvation referred to as our sanctification.
We will be saved in the future when God calls us to paradise and we receive our glorified bodies.
I have been saved—past tense—Justification.
I am being saved—present tense—Sanctification
I will be saved—future tense—Glorification
Between our Justification and our Glorification, God wants us to rest in the assurance of our salvation. God does not want us to live in the anxiety of uncertainty but to rest in the promise of His enduring love and our eternal security.
The New Testament book of 1 John is full of indicators of our salvation. 1 John 5:13 “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.”
The purpose of his short letter is to give the believers assurance of their authentic salvation experience—their justification. John bases their assurance on their sanctification.
• What are some of the results of justification you have seen in your own life? In other words, what fruit of your salvation are you aware of?
The brief 5 chapters of this letter are full of references to our assurances often cased in the words “we know that we know Him if…”
—4:15 we confess Jesus is Lord—the boss
—3:14 we love other believers in the church
—3:1-3 we do good works
—5:2 Love God and obey His commands
—4:13 Anointed by the Spirit of God. The fruits of the Spirit are evident: Gal 5:22-23 love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Our entry into salvation is an objective decision to believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Our assurance of the authenticity of that belief is a subjective experience of sanctification—am I being transformed?
The entry into salvation is a point in time.
The assurance of salvation is an ongoing experience of transformation. I am justified. I am being sanctified. I will be glorified.
I have been saved. I am being saved. I will be saved.
Paul explained this balance of faith and works in Ephesians 2:8-10 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
• How would you explain to a pre-Christian or a new Christian, the distinction between salvation “not by works” and saved “to do good works”?
Writing to the Corinthians, Paul encouraged them to “examine yourselves to see if you are truly in the faith.” (2 Cor. 13:5).
In Matthew 7:22-23 Jesus warned of false confidence in our salvation.
• How do you feel about “examining” your salvation? Does it promote
doubt? If so, is doubt a bad thing in our spiritual life?
• How does the examination promote assurance of salvation for you?
How do you know that you are saved?
- Your past experience of believing in Jesus.
- You current experience of being transformed by Him.
The authenticity of your belief is verified by the fruit of transformation in your present life. Boost the peace of your assurance by making a list of where you see evidence of God transforming your life today?