Salvation Past, Present, and Future
“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires” (Romans 13: 11-14).
The Scriptures describe salvation in three tenses—past, present, and future. When we place our faith in Jesus, God saves us from the penalty of our sins. In that moment, God has saved us, past tense, and we will forever be holy in God’s eyes, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. We call this justification.
Yet, a future day is coming when God will save us from the presence of sin. Jesus will return again as our reigning King of Kings and will restore all things. He will right every wrong and transform us fully into the men and women we were created to be. We call this glorification.
Between these two promises of salvation, God is saving us from the power of sin. By faith, we begin to see Jesus more clearly, and we joyfully turn away from worldly desires in order to become more and more like Jesus. We call this sanctification.
This process of sanctification is less like doing laundry and more like getting a new wardrobe. Instead of trying to remove the stench and stains of our dirty clothes, Jesus asks us to put on His clothes. These clothes are a free gift for us, but they were purchased at a high price—Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. This is good news of great joy for all people!
Father, you alone are holy, and we could never earn your favor or warrant salvation on our own. We come to you in faith, believing that Jesus has saved, is saving, and will save us from all sin. Guide us by your Holy Spirit to live as holy citizens of your kingdom. Amen.
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