Recently I celebrated the 40th anniversary of the day that I repented of my sins and became a born again Christian. It was a quiet celebration but one that I mark each year because it totally changed my life. As I celebrated I gave some though to this whole concept of salvation and what the Bible has to say about it.
Often we say, “I was saved on such and such a night” – in my case November 9, 1976. But this is not the whole truth and may even be a bit misleading to those who are disciples of Jesus as well as to non-believers.By stating the date of our initial encounter with the Living God we seem to imply that salvation is an event. It is – but it isn’t. In reality it is a process. The Bible talks about salvation in all three primary tenses: past, present, and future.
When we put our faith in Jesus, we were saved. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). That’s past tense. It’s done. It’s accomplished. And it happened in a moment.
But we are also being saved. Present tense. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). That speaks about the process of change, of growth, of depth.
And then there’s a future element to salvation. We will be saved. “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4-5).
We were saved, we are being saved, we will be saved. There’s no doubt about it. Walking with God is a lifelong experience. And beyond.
Yes, we are already forgiven. We will never be more forgiven than we are right now. We’ll never be more loved than we are right now. We’ve already arrived, and we’re already accepted. But at the same time, it’s going to be a process, because we are being changed and transformed each day. And the process will not be complete until we see Christ face-to-face, when he again changes us and makes us just like He is.