In describing salvation, it has been said:
- I am saved. (Past)
- I am being saved. (Present)
- I will be saved. (Future)*
The above statement reminds us that salvation is a process that God begins within the individual through soteriological concepts like regeneration, conversion, and justification. We have spoken about these concepts in some of our recent discussions. For those who have trusted Christ for redemption, these are past events.
Today, we want to turn our attention to the latter two. The present and future aspects of salvation.
God’s present work in our lives is referred to as sanctification.
God’s future work in our lives is called glorification.
Both of these aspects of salvation can clearly be seen in Romans 8.28-30 (noted by bold)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
As a point of application, it is paramount that believers don’t see salvation as just a one time event in their past, but as a continued daily work of God. Consider:
“…The righteous shall live by faith.” Ro 1:17. Paul uses a future tense verb in his quotation from the prophet Habakkuk, stressing that faith is not a one time action, but is something believers will maintain, or express in the future.
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23.
“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.” Phil. 1.6.
“Sanctification is the continuing work of God in the life of the believer, making him or her actually holy…a process by which one’s moral condition is brought into conformity with one’s legal status before God…It is a continuation of what was begun in regeneration, when a newness of life was conferred upon and instilled within the believer.” Millard J. Erickson. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 313-314.
“Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 746.
Justification VS Sanctification
Legal standing Internal condition
Once for all time Continuous throughout life
Entirely God’s work We cooperate
Perfect in this life Not perfect in this life
The same in all Greater in some than others
- Begins at regeneration
- Increases throughout life
- Not completed in this life
- Completed at death for our souls and Christ’s return four our bodies.
QUES: Why is sanctification never completed in this life? 1 John 1.8, Rom. 6.12, 13.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thess. 5.23.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3.18.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil. 2.13, 14.
Jesus makes it possible (1 Cor. 1.30).
Jesus is our example (Heb. 12.2 – “looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”).
A work of the Spirit (Gal. 5.16-18).
Accomplished through a variety of means, primarily God’s word.
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17.17.
The In Between:
- Death is not a punishment for Christians.
- Death is the final outcome of living in a fallen world.
- God uses the experience of death to complete our sanctification.
- Our experience of death completes our union with Christ.
- The souls of believers go immediately into God’s presence.
- No purgatory in the Bible.
- No “soul sleep” (unconscious existence).
- No limbo (OT believers).
- Don’t pray for the dead.
- Souls of unbelievers go immediately to eternal punishment.**
Christ did not simply redeem our souls, but our whole being. This included our bodies.
Therefore, Christ’s work of redemption is not complete until our bodies are set free from the effects of the fall.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Rom. 8.22, 23.
Glorification is the stage of redemption in which we receive our resurrection bodies.
This is the knock out blow to our enemy, death. “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Cor. 15.54c
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6. 39, 40.
The New Testament teaches that the souls of believers will be reunited with their physical resurrection bodies.
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4.13-17.
What will our resurrection bodies be like?
Like Jesus’ body. (physical)
“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” 1 Cor. 15.49.
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
- imperishable – they will not wear out.
- glory – the physical appearance will not be flawed.
- power – free from disease and aging and will run at full capacity.
- spiritual – not nonphysical, but in tune with God.
*For a brief article with further explanation see: https://www.ligonier.org/blog/3-tenses-gospel/
**Grudem, ch. 41.