The Three Tenses of Salvation
But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us (II Corinthians 1:9, 10 KJV).
1. Past Tense: God Has Delivered Us - For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The Word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the Word of Faith, which we preach, that if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:8, 9). For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38).
Child, you are birthed into the family of God by repentance and faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are saved by nothing else, because there is nothing you can do to save yourself. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9). For no man shall boast before God (I Corinthians 1:29 NAS).
A thief was hanging on a cross next to Jesus. Dying, there was not a thing he could do to save himself other than recognize that Jesus was the Messiah, and he heard the promise, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42,43).
A rich, young ruler approached Jesus to ask what he could do to inherit eternal life, thinking that he had kept all of the commandments. When Jesus exposed his idolatry, the young man's inability to give up his riches left the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me", shattered in his wake (Luke 18:18-23). All our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:57).
2. Present Tense: God Does Deliver Us - But we all, with an open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:18). Now you are saved, baptized and birthed into God's family, it is time to grow up. This is the sanctification process which will continue throughout your entire life (Philippians 1:6). The purpose of this process is to eventually conform you into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).
This is a co-operative process – God works, you yield. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). This begins a spiritual tug-of-war between the old you and the new you. God is working within us to grow us up to a higher spiritual level, just as a parent desires to see his child grow into adulthood. Your old carnal nature wants to resist this process. We want to yield to the Spirit working in us, yet there will be times when we will fail. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Jesus is right there to give us a brand new beginning and the strength to help us do better next time. Come boldly to the Throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Where sin abounds, grace abounds (Romans 5:20, 21).There is always forgiveness for our sins when we repent. Remember, you are His child, and He will never cast away anyone who comes to Him (John 6:37).
During the sanctification process we will be pruned, (John 15:2) corrected, tested by our circumstances to expose attitudes for their ultimate adjustments. If we judge ourselves we shall not be judged (II Corinthians 11:31). And remember, All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose ((Romans 8:28).
It is important to remember that you are not saved by the degree of spiritual growth you are able to obtain. In Jesus' parable, the workers who labored just a little, received the same amount of salvation as did those who labored all day (Matthew 20:1-16). However, the longer we walk with the Lord, more is required. To whom much is given much will be required (Luke 12:48). Those who knew their Master's will and didn't do it were chastened with many stripes, those who didn't know, with few (Luke 12:42-48).
You are being raised by a perfect, loving parent who knows exactly what we need. As many as I love I rebuke and chasten (Revelation 3:19). If you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons (Hebrews 12:8 NAS). Christ is not the minister of sin. The Lord knows them that are His. And, let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity (II Timothy 2:19). Therefore we labor to be accepted by Him (II Corinthians 5:9). While we do not labor for the gift of salvation, we labor to be pleasing to Him because we love Him –If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15). And we do not want to be ashamed at His coming (I John 2:28). And we want to hear Him say, Well done, My good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).
James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). A genuine faith in Christ naturally produces works, the fruit or evidence that we are saved. Jesus tells us to "Abide in the Vine" (John 15:4) - Himself. His life in us produces fruit, the changes within us, the character, the Divine nature consisting of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control (Galatians 5:22,23 NAS).
Remember, this fruit is developed in us over time as a result of our abiding, our ongoing relationship with Jesus. Grapes don't appear on the vine overnight. Again, your salvation is completed in tense number one and is not contingent on the degree of spiritual growth on your branch. You are sealed (by the Holy Spirit) unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).
You are building on a foundation which is Christ Jesus. Your reward in Heaven is determined by the quality of your response to the gospel. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abides thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire (I Corinthians 3:11-15). Our God is a consuming fire Hebrews 12:29). He consumes everything in us that is not of Him. His bride is not afraid to run into the flames.
These words are written for those who are His. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand (John 10:27,28). The word of God makes a very clear distinction between those that are Christ's and those who are not. Whoever abides in Him sins not: whoever sins has not seen Him, neither known Him (I John 3:6). The original Greek denotes a continuous action. In other words, those who deliberately, willfully, continuously practice sin have never known Christ. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness' (Matthew 7:22-23). Here Jesus addresses those who have an outward show of religion, but who are continuously practicing sin without seeking repentance, for perhaps, repentance has been removed from their doctrine and they have been preaching another gospel. They are tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). These are not people who are falling through weakness and are struggling to avoid it, they are willingly continuing in it. They are trusting in their outward works to redeem them and they are too proud to say, "Be merciful to me a sinner," as in Jesus' parable (Luke 18:9-13).
There are ten virgins waiting for our Lord's return (Matthew 25:1-12) Five of them didn't bring enough oil (Holy Spirit) to help them through the dark times. As the oil began to dwindle, so did their zeal and the resulting lukewarm spirit causes their faith in the gospel to diminish as well. They have succumbed to the New Age deception, the spirit of antichrist. They no longer believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation. When they wake up at the Lord's return, they find that the oil is gone; because where there is no Truth, there can be no Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, 16:13). Jesus does not recognize them because they have denied Him. (Luke 12:9, II Timothy 2:12).
Jesus tells a parable of seeds sown, some fall away when the going gets tough; some get choked by the cares of this life (Matthew 13:3-23). In another parable, some bury all their talents in earthly endeavors and don't serve Him at all, not even with their tithes, for they have not invested in the bank, the mission fields (Matthew 25:14-30). If you belong to Jesus, there will eventually be some response to the New Life that is working in you. Here there is none. These passages refer to those who are not His sheep. You cannot lose a salvation you never had.
If you have received Jesus as your Savior and His words abide in you (John 15:7) if you are yielding to His inner workings in your life and letting Him develop His compassion in your heart, you will have no trouble passing your final exam (Matthew 25:31-46) for you will have in some way, served "The Least of These."
3. Future Tense: God Will Yet Deliver Us
The book of Revelation describes those who are partakers of the first resurrection (Revelation 20: 4, 5). Upon these the second death has no power. This is the bride of Christ who has washed her robes in the blood of the Lamb through repentance. She has entered into heaven and her salvation is completed. She receives her reward for her labors for Christ. Knowing that it was Jesus alone that has purchased her salvation and done all the work through her, she lays the crown of gold she has received at her risen Savior's feet (Revelation 4:10).
It will be a terrifying thing for those who have ignored the Holy Spirit's leading and rejected Christ, to stand before the great throne of God. As they wait trembling, God judges them from the things in the books that their lives have written. Because their names have not been found in the Lamb's book of life, heaven is denied them and they receive the outcome of their rejection of the Truth of Christ; and they are removed from the Presence of all light into eternal darkness (Revelation 20:11-15). But now, in the time that remains for all of us, God commands all men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30).
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come…Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light – Jesus (Revelation 22:17 and Matthew 11:28-30 NAS)
copyright 2004 by H.D. Shively
Bible Insights | Cafe Logos Homepage