Salvation: A Work in Progress (Sept-Dec 2010)

By Matt Dabbs

by Edward Fudge
September 15, 2010

A gracEmail subscriber in the San Francisco Bay area asks whether salvation is a process rather than an event.

 

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“Salvation” is another word for “rescue” or “deliverance” and there are many ways of talking about God’s divine rescue of sinners. For example, the Bible speaks of justification, sanctification and glorification. These involve past, present and future, which enables the believer to say, “I have been justified; I am being sanctified; I will be glorified.” Justification is God’s work for us; sanctification is God’s work in us; glorification is God’s work on us. Justification delivers us from sin’s penalty (Rom.

3-4). Sanctification delivers us from sin’s power (Rom. 7). Glorification will deliver us from sin’s presence (Rom. 8; 1 Cor. 15).
There is a sense in which we have been saved (Eph. 2:8). But the Bible also speaks of those who are “being” saved (1 Cor. 1:18). And it says that we “shall be saved” in the Last Day (Rom. 5:9-10). We have been redeemed, liberated, by Jesus’ blood — but we also look forward to the day of redemption (Eph. 1:7, 14). We have the Spirit of God already, but we anticipate the unmediated fullness of God’s personal, powerful Presence in new heavens and a new earth. We have been washed and cleansed, but the Christian life involves ongoing cleansing (1 Cor. 6:11; 1 John 1:7). The Messiah came and he is yet to come (Heb. 9:26, 28). The Kingdom is here but it is also coming, and Jesus taught us to pray that it will come on earth as it is in heaven (Col. 1:13; 2 Pet. 1:11; Matt. 6:10).

These days we are so accustomed to hearing people talk about “getting saved” that we might find it surprising to realize that the New Testament scarcely uses that language. “Salvation” – the outpouring and outworking of God’s grace – is not only a single-point event but a lifelong process. Some of us come to God in crisis-experiences; others are nurtured in the faith from infancy and have no “Damascus-Road” testimony at all. Is salvation an event? Indeed it is. Is it a process? Indeed it is. Is it past, present or future? Again the answers are “Yes!” We may describe salvation in the simplest of terms and speak truthfully. But as much as we ever learn, we will never be able to describe it exhaustively. Thanks be to God for his incomparable gift!

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Copyright 2010 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby given to reproduce with credit given, without change and

without charge.


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About...

Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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