What Is Salvation
What Is The Meaning Of This Biblical Concept ?
Silas C. Nair
What Is Salvation
âœIf you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.â (Rom. 10.9, 10)
What is this salvation? Even those who are saved sometime do not under what this salvation is, with the result that they do not have the assurance of salvation and therefore they are not able to fully appreciate and enjoy it.
Before we look at salvation, which God has provided for sinful man we would very briefly at man who is in need of salvation. Then we will see eight pictures of salvation that we find in the Old Testament. This will teaches what salvation does to us.
Next we will examine the main facets of salvation: viz. Atonement, Reconciliation and Redemption. Repentance and faith are the means by which we obtain this salvation.
Results of salvation come next. Here we will study, justification, regeneration, adoption, sanctification and glorification. Finally we will examine our part in this, i.e. the practical aspect of it. Given below is the first of these points:
The Need Of Salvation: In the Bible and everywhere in the world we see man as a sinner. He was created upright and without sin. But through disobedience he became a sinner. Bible says: âœThrough one man sin entered the world and death through sin.â (Rom. 5.12). Sinful man is in a very pathetic situation He knows he is sinful and is guilty before himself and before God. The history of man shows that he has evolved many methods to propitiate the Holy God of heaven but has not been successful in his effort, which always came short of God's requirements. He knows what is good but is not able to perform it and he knows what is evil and is not able to prevent it. Man knows the need of salvation and that he himself is not able to achieve it. God has taken the initiative to save him.
God has only one plan of salvation; but he has various ways of dealing with man in regard to it. Someone has compared salvation to a sparkling gem, which has many facets. Each facet represents certain aspect of the work of Christ. Therefore no single aspect is fully able to describe it. When we consider all the aspects of this salvation together we get a full picture of what God has done for a repentant sinner.
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The Types Of Salvation
Bible is made up of two Testaments called Old and New Testaments. The first 39 books comprise the Old Testament and the last 27 books comprise the New Testament.
In the Old Testament there are many types or shadows of salvation provided by the Lord. These are shadows whose fulfilment is found only in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time each shadow only portrays or emphasizes one aspect of this multifaceted salvation. We would very quickly review eight of them.
1. Substitution: (Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac, Gen. 22.12-14). God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham went to Mount Moorish, the place appointed by God to sacrifice his son. At the last moment God prevented him from sacrificing Isaac and showed him a substitute instead, a goat caught in the thicket. And Abraham sacrificed the goat.
Christ is the acceptable substitute for us. (1 Pet. 3.18). He is the only one without sin and God accepted His sacrifice on our behalf and God accepts us in the beloved.
2. Alleviation: (The Brazen Serpent Num. 21 .9; Jn. 3.14) In the wilderness the people complained against Moses and against Manna provided for them. (Manna is the miraculous provision of food provided by God for the Jews in their wilderness wanderings). The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and many of the people of Israel died. When the people cried unto the Lord, He commanded Moses to make brazen serpent and put it on a pole. The remedy for anyone who was smitten by the fiery serpent was to look on the brazen serpent and they would immediately be cured.
Jesus said: âAs Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so also must the Son of Man be lifted upâ. (The Son of Man is a title of the Lord Jesus Christ). The salvation provided in the person and work of Jesus Christ completely cures the sinner from the curse and bite of sin. Whereas sin only produces death, as the bite of the fiery serpent only produced death, a look at the Lord Jesus dying for you cures you completely brings life to you. (Isa. 45.22; Jn. 6.40)
3. Purification: (Naaman the leper was purified or cleansed 2 Kings 5.1-14) Naaman, commander of the army of the King of Syria was a mighty man of valour, but he was a leper. Because of the witness of a Jewish maid, he went to the King of Israel and through him to the Prophet Elisha who asked him to go and wash in the Jordan seven times. Reluctantly Naaman did it, and he was completed cleansed of his leprosy.
Leprosy is a type of sin, which makes a man unclean before a holy God. The blood of Jesus Christ completely cleanses the sin of man (1 Jn. 1:7). The promise of the Lord is even if your sin is like scarlet, I will make it as white as snow (Isa. 1:18). Salvation in Christ cleanses or purifies us from all sin.
4. Clothing: (Adam and Eve clothed by God Gen. 3:21) When the first man and woman disobeyed God their eyes were opened and they found to their utter amazement that they were naked and were ashamed to appear before one another and before God. In their sinless state though they were naked, they were not ashamed. Their innocence was their cloth that clothed them.
They tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves. Sin makes a man naked before God (Heb. 4.13) But the Lord Jesus, the lamb of God (John 1.29) died for us that we might be clothed with âœgarments of salvationâ and be covered with âœrob of righteousness (Isa. 61.10) They make us fit to appear before God. God, who had mercy on them, sacrificed an innocent animal and clothed them with coats of skin, which covered their nakedness.
Sin makes a man naked before God, but salvation in Christ clothes him and makes him fit to appear before God.
5. Approbation: (Abel accepted by God Gen. 4.4) Both Cain and Abel appeared before God with sacrifices. Cain came with the fruits of the ground: in other words with the labor of his hands. God did not accept him. Even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags before him. (Isa. 64.6) Before God can accept our works, he should accept us. This did not happen in the case of Cain.
Abel came with a lamb for sacrifice. This was Abel's confession that he was a sinner and the blood of an innocent animal was offered on his behalf. God was pleased in his sacrifice and he was accepted before God. This is a picture of salvation that guarantees us acceptance before God. God accepted the sacrifice that Jesus offered on the Cross of Calvary and He raised Him from the dead. We are accepted by God in Christ. (Eph. 6)
6. Protection: (The Ark and the Passover. Gen. 7.1; Ex. 12.23). When God found that the wickedness of man was great on the earth he came in judgement. He sent rain and flood from heaven. Noah found favour with God and He asked him to prepare an Ark and to enter the Ark. Every living thing that had breath in its nostrils died in the flood, but Noah and his family who entered the Ark escaped the judgement of God and saved their life. This is a picture of salvation that protects us from the wrath of God.
A similar picture we also find in the Passover Lamb that was slain by the Jews in Egypt. On the night of the 14th day of the first month, God came down in judgement. The firstborn of even man and beast of Egypt died. But in the houses of the Jews who were sheltered by the blood of the slain Passover lamb, none died. Christ himself is our Passover (1 Cor. 5.7). Salvation in Christ protects us from the wrath of God.
7. Satisfaction: (The Manna and the Smitten Rock (Ex. 16.4; 17.6) In the wilderness journey of the children of Israel, they were provided with manna for food and water from the smitten rock. This satisfied them through their wilderness journey, though they murmured time and again. But it was a satisfactory provision for their journey. This is a type of salvation that satisfies
Jesus Christ himself is the living bread that came down from heaven (Jn. 6.41). The fathers who were fed with Manna were not fed by Moses, but by God in heaven (Jn. 6.32). This manna is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said: âœHe who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life (Jn. 6.54)
Likewise, they drank from the smitten rock. Paul writes: âœThey drank of that Spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10.4). He who eats of him shall never hunger and he who drinks of him will never thirst. There is complete satisfaction in Christ.
8. Communion: (The Tabernacle of fellowship Ex. 25.22) Man was created in the image of God to live in fellowship with God. Man transgressed the commandment of God and was driven away from the garden of Eden, and thus from the fellowship of God.
Tabernacle is a beautiful picture of God restoring man back into fellowship with Himself. He told Moses to make a tabernacle so that He may dwell with them (Ex. 25.8). He gave him detailed instructions as to how to make it and also its furniture. In the Holy of Holes is the Ark of the Testimony. The lid of this Ark made with gold is called the Mercy Seat. There, over and above the mercy seat was the place where God said He would commune with man, the place where the fellowship is restored. This is on the basis of the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God (Jn. 1.1) The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. It is through him we have fellowship with God. It is the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary that has restored the fellowship of man with God. Salvation restores us into communion or fellowship with God. (1 Jn. 1.3).
These are beautiful pictures or types of salvation we have in the person of Jesus Christ.
We would now look briefly at the overall picture of salvation and then examine it in detail.
What the Bible teaches is that God has provided salvation for all men in the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ. For effecting this, the Son assumed human flesh to die in the stead of man. He rose again from the dead on the third day and ascended to the Father to receive the place of power at the right hand of God, to appear on behalf of those who believe in Him. He will come again to consummate the work of salvation.
The work of the Son of God was for the purpose of saving a repentant sinner from the guilt, penalty, and power and ultimately from the presence of sin. In some sense it embraced also the redemption of nature, since nature was subject to vanity because of the sin of the first man. Salvation is provided for all men everywhere in the world in a general sense, but only the elect, i.e. those who believe in Jesus Christ appropriate it.
Repentance is necessary for salvation. This repentance is for the preparation of the heart and is not the price paid for eternal life, which is the gift of God. Salvation is appropriated through faith and this is the gift of God.
Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is the agent who applies salvation to the individual soul. He uses the Word of God and the preacher to bring conviction of sin and also continues the work of sanctification. Ultimately He will present the whole company of the redeemed to Christ at His second coming.
Let us now look at different words, which depict the various facets of salvation.
Facets Of Salvation
Salvation in itself is a simple word, but it represents a whole complex of experiential and positional phenomena taking place on earth and in heaven. Some of these are:
1. ATONEMENT: When God gave the Ten Commandments to the Jews, without much thinking they said again and again: âœwe will do itâ (Ex. 19.8; 24.3,7). But they broke every commandment of God. It is impossible for a holy God to go along with a sinful people. Therefore He gave them detailed instructions regarding sacrifices to atone for their sins. These sacrifices were a way for the sinful man to approach the holy God. The sacrifices were a bull, a goat, a lamb, or a dove without blemish. But it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins (Heb. 10.4). But these sacrifices were for the atonement of the sins of the one who offered it. The meaning in the Old Testament is that these sacrifices atoned, or âcoveredâ™ the sins from the sight of a Holy God. These sacrifices were offered year after year because the ones who offered it were conscious of their sins
God had told Moses that He would meet with him and speak to him from over and above the mercy seat. The mercy seat is the lid covering the Ark of the Testimony in the Holy of Holies. Inside the Ark were the Tables of Stones, the Ten Commandments, which are called the ministration of death (2 Cor. 3.7) which should always be covered. It was on the basis of the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat, which covered the commandments, that a Holy God could speak to man. With this thought in mind, Kind David thanked God: âœBlessed is the man whose sin is covered (Ps. 32.1)
Likewise Jesus Christ Himself became the mercy seat for us. The Old Testament sacrifices were only a shadow of the Cross of Calvary. The Son of God offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of man. He is perfect man and fully God. It is His perfection that gives character to His sacrifice. The wrath of God is against sin and ungodliness. When the perfect sacrifice of the Son of God was offered, God's anger was appeased and in a sense it was fully wiped away. Therefore God was propitiated. Jesus Christ himself is the propitiation for the sin of the whole world (1 Jn. 2.2).
In the Old Testament the sin was only covered for a time, but now the sacrifice of the Lamb of God without blemish, completely carried away our sins. God does not remember our sins any more. (Heb. 8.12).
2. RECONCILIATION: The atonement of Christ has reconciled us to God. But what does this mean? Sin made man an enemy of God. God is never said to be an enemy of man at any time. It is the God of love who took initiative in reconciliation. God has not changed and man also has not changed.
Even god cannot reconcile us without making proper provision for it. The blood of Jesus Christ shed on the Cross of Calvary was the means by which God has reconciled us. (Col. 1.20, 21).
But because of the atonement made by Jesus Christ man is persuaded to forsake his enmity and accept the reconciliation offered by God.
3. REDEMPTION: Jesus Christ said: âœHe that commits sin is the servant of sin (Jn. 8.34) He is sold under sin (Rom. 7.14). This is a picture of a slave sold in the slave market. Sin uses the law against the evil desires reminding one that such desires are wrong and arousing all kinds of forbidden desires within one (Rom. 7.8). It is impossible for man to free himself from this bondage. If Jesus Christ therefore, makes you free you shall be free indeed (Jn. 8.36).
Jesus Christ came to the world for this purpose. It is written that: âœThe Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for manyâ. Redemption means âto deliver by paying a priceâ™.
It was man who sinned and the law demanded that man should be punished. Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Heb. 9.22). But if a sinner pays by his blood, he has to die and there is no more redemption possible for him. Therefore a sinless substitute, a Man, had to be found. Jesus Christ was such a man. He is God Himself, yet He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. If He was only a Man, though perfect, he could have redeemed only one sinful man. But since He is God also there is infinite value in His blood.
There are three distinct words that explain to us the meaning of the word âœredemptionâ. Jesus Christ paid the purchase price and brought the sinner in the market. This is the idea contained in 1 Cor. 6.20 âœyou are bought with a priceâ. (see 7.23; 2 Pet. 2.1 etc.)
He is also ransomed the sinner and bought him out of the market. âœHe has redeemed us from the curse of the lawâ (Gal. 3.13; 4.5). The transaction is final. The sinner is no more for sale.
The third word is found in 1 Pet. 1.18. He has also redeemed us from the vain manner of life. The redeemed sinner is set free. Though Jesus Christ paid the price, it is the Holy Spirit who makes deliverance actual in experience.
A repentant sinner is viewed as forgiven and justified and delivered from the guilt of sins (Rom. 3.24). He is also introduced into a new life of liberty or ânewness of lifeâ™. The redemption effected is not simply from the consequences of the transgression but from the transgressions themselves (Heb. 9:15).
Though a sinner is redeemed when he believes, his redemption also is said to be in future. This is the redemption of his body. This will be effected only Jesus Christ comes again.
Jesus Christ paid the price for my redemption from sin and death. But what shall I do to be saved? Or what did I do when I was saved?
The Means Of Salvation
What must one do be to saved? This is a natural question that comes to the mind of everyone who feels the need of salvation.
There are two very important words we should understand in connection with salvation. They are (1) Repentance and (2) Faith.
Jesus Christ told his disciples to make disciples of all nations. For this He asked them to preach repentance and remission of sins (Lk. 24.47).
When Paul and Silas were in Europe they were put in prison in Philippi for the testimony of Christ. At midnight there was an earthquake and the prisoners were loosed from their bonds. The Jailer was so afraid of the extraordinary things happening around him he cried out: âœSirs, what must I do to be saved?â Paul immediately answered: âœBelieve on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be savedâ Acts 16.30.31).
Except a persons repents and turns away from his sin he cannot be saved. âœExcept you repent you shall all likewise perishâ (Lk. 13.3) are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Repentance is not simply being sorry for one's sin. Judas Iscariot who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ was sorry for his mistake but went and hanged himself. There was no salvation for him. There was only remorse in him because of his wrong deeds.
In the Old Testament we find another character, Esau, who sold his birthright for some potage. He was filled with remorse but he did not repent. There were many others in the Bible like Pharaoh the emperor of Egypt, Saul the first King of Israel etc. who said: âœI have sinnedâ, but they did not repent. What then is repentance?
Repentance is a change of mind about sin, self and God. It is a change of the path in taking the opposite direction from the one in which he was travelling.
When David sinned, he realized that sin is an affront to a holy God. He knew that his sin was against God. Every sin is against God, because, sin is the transgression of the law of God. He confessed his sin and turned to the same God he offended for salvation.
Job tried to justify himself before God spoke to him. But when God spoke to him, he said âœI have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye sees thee. Wherefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashesâ. Sin is falling short of the standard of God. Every man is fallen. (Job. 42.5, 6).
Paul testified to the Jews and Gentiles repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20.21). Repentance and faith are the two sides of the same coin. In salvation you cannot have one without the other.
Faith is not simply passive intellectual ascent. Without knowledge you cannot believe, but knowledge alone is not faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10.17). Faith is not simply consenting that the word of God is right, but acting upon it. Faith is belief in action.
In trying to explain saving faith, James said: âœYou believe that there is one God. You do well. The demons also believe and tremble,â (Jas. 2.19) Therefore, he said, faith without works is dead.
Faith is acting upon God's word. One a man with a withered hand came before the Lord Jesus. He asked the man to stretch forth his hand. That was his problem. He cannot do that himself. But believing the One who told him to stretch forth his hand, he stretched it forth and his hand became whole. That was exercising faith (Matt. 12.10-13).
On another occasion ten lepers came to the Lord Jesus Christ asking for mercy. He asked them to go and show themselves to the priest. Their problem was that they were lepers and they could not go into the society. But they went to show themselves to the priest. As they went they were cleansed (LK. 17.11-14)
So salvation is believing the word of God that all men are sinners and Christ had paid the ransom to redeem them. You repent of your sins and believe God and turn to Him for salvation. His words are: âœHe that comes to me, in no wise I will cast him out (Jn. 6.37).
When a person is saved, or when he is born again, many things happen in his life simultaneously. Though it is very difficult to say chronologically what happens first and what happens next, there seems to be a logical order.
A person who is born again is justified in the presence of God; a new nature from God is given to him, which we call regeneration; he is adopted into the family of God; he is also sanctified and glorified. Therefore we would consider briefly these aspects of salvation, viz. Justification, Regeneration, Adoption, Sanctification and Glorification.
The Results of Salvation
The salvation of a person accompanies several experiential and positional changes. Some of these are:
1. JUSTIFICATION: Justification is a legal term and we can best understand it in a legal sense. The word means to declare a person righteous, i.e. ones state is in harmony with the demands of the law (Ex. 23.7; Deut. 25.1). God is a God of righteousness. He is a just God. As a lawgiver he has to punish those who transgress the law. This means that anyone who does not live in conformity with the law of God has to be punished, because God is a righteous judge. God will not justify the wicked (Ex. 23.6)
Justification can be done in two ways. If a person's character and actions are in conformity with the demands of the law, such a person can be declared just by a Holy God. This is impossible, because the verdict of the divine judge is that âœthere is none righteous, no, not one,â (Rom. 3.10).
The other way is to impute the righteousness of a substitute to man and declare him righteous. This does not mean though that a person so declared righteous is inwardly righteous. In other words, âjustificationâ™ does not denote a change that is brought about in man. Justification is the term that speaks of the standing of a believing sinner before God.
On what grounds can God justify the ungodly without compromising his own justice as Judge? In other words, how can he justify the ungodly?
God who is the righteous judge cannot declare a man righteous without remitting the penalty involved. Man is a sinner and man must pay the penalty, which is death. Therefore, Christ, the Son of God bore the penalty in the stead of man. He died on the Cross of Calvary. God raised Him from the dead. Since the penalty is now remitted God is in a position to acquit a believing sinner from all his unrighteousness, and impute the righteousness of Christ to him, and declare him righteous. In the reckoning of God what happens is this:
Since we are Adam's children, his sin is imputed unto us and we are reckoned as sinners before God. Our sin is imputed to Christ, and he takes the penalty on our behalf. God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. The condemnation that was on the sinner is not now removed because of his belief in the vicarious death of Christ and his resurrection but God also declares him righteous and brings him into favour with Him.
A believer is justified from all things from which he could not be justified by the Law of Moses (Acts 13.39). This brings peace with God (Rom. 5.1). And he has a hope of God's glory. We have access into the presence of God before whom the heavens themselves are not pure and who charges the angels with folly! (Job. 4.18). We should realize that even now the culpability of sin still remains in a believer (1 Jn. 1.8).
2. REGENERATION: Regeneration is a miracle that is beyond words to mention. Nicodemus was a Jew, a member of the race with whom the God of heaven had covenanted. He was an elite Jew, a Pharisee of Pharisees. He was rich. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a teacher of Israel. He was religious. There was nothing more a young man of the first century could ask for. But he knew that Jesus was different from every one of them. He came to Jesus one night! Jesus told him: âœexcept a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (Jn.3.3). Repentance, faith, conversion, and regeneration: This was the path to the kingdom of God. But to be born again! How can this be! This was a miracle that could not be understood by Nicodemus.
Man is spiritually dead. What he needs is not religion, or education but regeneration. He needs life. Man is dead in trespasses and in sins (Eph. 2.1). How can a dead body raise itself? It has ears but cannot hear, heart that cannot beat, will that cannot respond. Human efforts cannot revive the body. A preacher's preaching or a professor's education cannot regenerate the body. Not only he is dead spiritually; he is without Christ and without hope in this world. There is death, corruption and decay around us; darkness and despair are everywhere. Spiritually dead man cannot give himself life. He is totally helpless.
God must intervene. He must take the initiative, and He has! If a whale has to be harnessed to the plow it must change its nature. So must a dog if it has to live in the deep. A hairy caterpillar can become a beautiful butterfly. It has the potential. Likewise a spiritually dead man can be regenerated. He has the potential because he is made in the image of God.
The prerogative is of God. Saul of Tarsus was a Jew who persecuted the church of God. God gave life to this dead Jew, and regenerated him into Paul the Apostle.
Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God who moves over the waters of the deep While participating in the original creation, comes to the rescue of man. He uses the Word of God, which is living and powerful. This incorruptible seed is planted in the dead soul. This word convinces the soul of its sin and its need of a Saviour and enables him to look to the Lord.
Lazarus of Bethany was dead. But the dead heard the voice of Jesus Christ and he came forth alive. Likewise a dead soul hears the voice of the Spirit and is made alive. The Spirit is life and He alone can give life. The wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell from where it comes and where it goes; so is every one who is born of the Spirit (Jn. 3.8).
Regeneration is not reformation. It is not a repaid done to the old man. It is not a face-lift. It is not a white wash to give a new appearance. It is completely new creation. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor. 5.17).
3. ADOPTION: Adoption is the natural outcome of justification. When justified by faith we have a new standing before God. When we are born again, regenerated, we receive a new life from God. But when we are adopted we have a new position in the family of God.
When we are born again, we become the children of God (Jn. 1.12, 13). This is our relationship to God. In adoption something more happens. A believer, who is already a child of God, is placed in the position of an adult son (Gal. 4.1-5) with all its privileges.
Before conversion we were children of wrath by nature (Eph. 2.3). Our natural predisposition was towards anger and bitterness. Satan energized our character of disobedience to God and we were disposed to disobey God. As children of disobedient Adam we wilfully followed him (Eph. 5.6). God's wrath was also upon us (Rom. 1.18). Death and future judgement were what we were waiting for.
Now as believers we are adopted into the family of God. We have received the Spirit of Adoption which enables us to call God âœAbba Fatherâ™ (Gal. 4.6). The Spirit of God witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God. This is our assurance. We have also the privilege of being led by the Spirit of God. He guides us in our pilgrim journey (Rom. 8.14, 16).
A father may disinherit his natural child, but he can never disinherit his adopted child. In explaining the Biblical doctrine of adoption Paul has in mind the Roman Law. According to the Roman law no father can disinherit a legally adopted son. So is the case in our country also. As an adopted children we become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Gal. 4.7). There is going to be no change at all in our adoption.
We have a family name too. The different aspects of our character are described in this family name. We are called âsaintsâ™ because we are separated unto God, our Father (1 Cor. 1.1, 2). We are âbelieversâ™ because we believe in God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. We are also called âdisciplesâ™ because our Lord teaches us. And we are âbrethrenâ™ because we are born of the Father into his family and we are brothers of one another.
Father's love and care are upon us. He knows and provides our needs. His ears are open to our cry. Sometimes when we disobey Him it would be necessary for the Father to chasten us (Heb. 12.5-11). This is but the token of His love. Fatherly comfort is given to us (2 Cor. 1.4)
One day we shall be conformed to the image of his son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We are everyday being changed from glory to glory into the same image (2 Cor. 3.18). When the Lord Jesus Christ comes again to take us home we shall see him and we shall be like him. We shall receive an inheritance reserved for us in heaven (1 Pet. 1.3-5). The redemption of our body will be complete. This is the consummation of adoption (Rom. 8.23).
4. SANCTIFICATION AND GLORIFICATION: Many children of God are worried and become unsure of their salvation when some serious sin occurs in their lives. They doubt their salvation, and loose the joy of salvation. This robs them of the vitality of Christian life. Some come to the conclusion that they have done some unpardonable sin and therefore they have lost their salvation. This makes them more miserable than ever and their last stage becomes worse than the beginning. All these are because they do not understand the salvation that they have received from the Lord.
We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2.8). When we are saved we are saved immediately from sin's penalty, because Christ has paid the penalty on our behalf. The judgement has been taken away from us. We need not feel guilty before God. In fact we have been justified before God and accepted by him. âœWho shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Rom. 8.33, 34). This happened once and for all in our life. This situation is not ever going to charge. It is irreversible.
This does not mean that the culpability to sin has been taken away from us. It is still with us. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves (1 Jn. 1.8).
Positionally, God has also sanctified us. But there is another aspect of sanctification, which is progressive and practical. Sanctification removes from us the pollution of ins and renews us ever increasingly in conformity with the image of the Son. In the present sense we are progressively saved from the power of sin.
Jesus Christ who loved us and gave His life for us is now cleansing us day by day and will present us to Himself without spot or wrinkle. Today He is our High Priest interceding for us at the right hand of God. Since He was tempted in all points like we are, except sin, he is able to give us succour when we are tempted. So, he helps us in our weakness. We are asked to go to Him or help in time of need (Heb. 4.15, 16). But if in spite of this we sin, He is our Advocate pleading for us. So in His present ministry he is praying and pleading for us.
Today Christ is also cleansing the church with the washing of water by the word. This is also part of the sanctification work (Eph. 5.26). One day he shall present us to Himself without any spot.
At the same time sanctification is our responsibility also. This is what is called practical sanctification.
5. PRACTICAL SANCTIFICATION: The word sanctification is used of (1) separation to God (1 Pet. 1.2) and also (2) the course of life befitting those so separated (1 Thes. 4.3, 7). In practical sanctification we consider the later aspect.
A great Bible scholar W.E. Vine explains about sanctification: âœSanctification is God's will for the believer (1 Thes. 4.3) and His purpose in calling him by the gospel v.7. It must be learned from God.v.4, as He teaches it by His word (Jn. 17.17, 19) and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, (1 Tim. 2.15; Heb. 12.14). For the holy character, (1 Thes. 3.13) is not vicarious, i.e. it cannot be transferred or imputed, it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and of following the example of Christ, (Matt. 11.29; Jn. 13.15; Eph. 4.20; Phil. 2.5) in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8.13; Eph. 3.16) (Notes on Thessalonians by Hogg and Vine).
The ideas of separation (Deut. 7.6) purity and cleanness (Hab. 1.13; Lev. 11.44, 45) moral perfection (2 Sam.22.31; Lev. 22.21; Matt. 5.48) are included in sanctification.
One day God will sanctify us wholly (1 Thes. 5.23). This is the Christian goal. But is this goal achievable in the present life? We are asked to be steadfast, to continue, to be zealous etc.
Biblical testimony to sin in us should not be forgotten (1 Jn. 1.8). Perfect holiness becoming a reality in this life is not suggested anywhere in scripture. But scripture gives continuous encouragement not to grow weary and faint, to accept God's frequent and painful discipline, and to strengthen feeble arms and knees (Heb. 12.3-13). Therefore there should be a continual personal purification till the Rapture. Jesus Christ will come again and the dead in Christ shall rise first and the believers who remain alive will be transformed and together they will be caught up in the air to be with the Lord always (1 Thes. 4.13-17). This is the rapture.
Sometimes scripture teaches perfection in the lives of many saints. Noah is characterized as a âœrighteous man, blameless in his generation (Gen. 6.9)â This is only relative perfection. Compared to his contemporaries Noah was righteous. Job is another person described as âœblameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evilâ (Job. 1.1). This is also relative to others in his generation. They were not having sinless perfection.
Paul mentions about those who are âœperfectâ or âœmatureâ saints (Eph. 4.13-14). Here also Paul does not mean âsinless perfectionâ™ but mature Christians.
A distinction between the goal in Christian life and its fulfilment should always be borne in mind. The goal is to grow in holiness and should ever be before the believer. âœBe thou perfect as thy father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5.48)â™. There is much error if we do not devote ourselves to this pursuit of holiness, but to claim it as an accomplished fact is much more dangerous.
We need continuous renewal of the whole man after the image of God and need to die unto sin and alive unto righteousness (Tit. 3.5; cf. Rom. 6.11).
We need to be renewed in our spirit (2 Cor. 7.1) Pride should be turned into humility; bitterness into sweetness; judgmental spirit into a spirit of love (Eph. 4.31-32)
We need to be renewed in our soul. Our mind is affected here (Rom. 12.2; Phil. 2.5). We bring every thought of the mind to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10.5).
We need to be renewed in our emotions. Our feelings and desires are changed here (Gal. 5.17, 24). Youthful passions should be shunned (2 Tim. 2.21-22). Grace of God teaches us to do this (Tit. 2.1112).
We need to be renewed in our will (Rom. 12.1, 2; Jn. 7.17; Col. 1.9-10). Our will should be surrendered to God. We should order our lives in complete submission to Him.
In sanctification our body is also affected. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6.19, 20). There is an emphasis to the body in practical sanctification (1 Thes. 4.3). Our body and its members should be submitted as instruments or righteousness (Rom. 6). Our bodies should not be used for prostitution in any form (1 Cor. 6.15-17)
How does this sanctification occur in our lives? What method is to be adopted to achieve this?
We are sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1.2) and He himself will finally sanctifies (Phil. 1.6). By His work in us he will make us what we were declared to be in our salvation.
But from the human side: W were dead in sins earlier. But after salvation we should die to sin in the sense we should reckon it to be so. Sin should not have dominion over us (Rom. 6.14). When temptation comes we should say âNoâ™ to it and should not succumb to it (cf.Rom. 8.13). By the power of the Holy Spirit we should put to death our sinful members (Col. 3.5). This is the negative side of practical sanctification.
Positively we should live for righteousness (Rom. 6.19). This is possible when we obey the Word of God (Ps. 119.11). The word of God cleanses us (Jn. 15.3; Eph. 5.26).
Our central focus should be Christ himself (Heb. 12.1, 2). He is our example (1 Pet. 2.24). When we follow him we will be changed from glory to glory into the same image (2 Cor. 3.18).
New Testament describes the present Christ life by the word âwalkâ™. We are exhorted to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 2.25). We should not go back to any bondage. Spirit gives us freedom to walk, as we ought to. (Christian Walk or personal life is the subject matter of the Follow Up Series No. 4 âœHow do I walk?â)
We are asked not to sin. But if we sin, we need to confess our sins to Him, and he is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1.9).
Justification happens in the tribunal of God, but does not change our inner life. Sanctification changes our inner life. In sanctification we become what we were declared to be in justification. Sanctification is a process that continues through out the earthly life of a believer. When we dedicate our lives to God, the Spirit of God puts to death the deeds of the body (Rom. 8.13). He also works in us obedience to the word (1 Pet. 1.22) and produces in us the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22, 23). Sanctification will be complete only when the Lord comes. The God of peace will sanctify us wholly. Our whole spirit and soul and body will be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The believer will be finally saved from the presence of sin itself.
When this happens we shall be glorified. We shall be like him in our glorified bodies. Our salvation is secure. Our Lord said âœI give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand Jn. 10.28)â. Our life at present is hid in God.
Let Us Conclude
I am confident that your new spiritual life has given you much joy. This joy becomes all the more meaningful and intense when we realize what all is included in âsalvationâ™.
As you noted in the previous pages, salvation is not just an escape from hell. Rather, it is made up of several gifts - all given by God in His mercy. This must make us grateful to Him all our lives. And that takes us to the second subject studied in this series.
We saw that after salvation God expects us to take our sanctification seriously. After He set us apart positionally, God expects each one of us to go through this experience of separation every of our lives. This should come not as a result of any pressure, but as a consequence of our gratefulness and joy for what He has done for us. Since these are all new ideas, you might not understand it all immediately. Do not despair. Read this booklet again. Also, ask the believers around you. Most of them will be very happy to help you if you take the initiative to ask them.
Now that you are a member of a divine family, you are not alone. You are part of a new group, and that will require some adjustments. In the next booklet we will study about this collect life.
God bless you !
The Series Editor