Select Page
Tenses of salvation
Brad Sadler

This morning I was reading through 1 Peter and in 1 Peter 1:5  (NLT) he says “And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”

What catches one’s eye is “until you receive this salvation” because it would seem that there is a salvation we do not have, as Peter is writing to believers. The NIV translation says it is “a salvation that is coming”, but if there is only one salvation, the salvation we received from Christ when we believed in Him, what is Peter saying?

In scripture there is what is called “tenses of salvation”, I see that frown, let me explain.

As believers in Christ this may sound strange because we are already saved. However, Scripture talks about salvation in at least three ways. We were saved when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is called justification, as God canceled the debt of our  sin and gave us Christ’s righteousness. He now sees us as his Son in perfect righteousness. Scripture speaks of this salvation in the past tense as in Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

The second way is that we are being saved; this is called sanctification. Every day, we are being saved from sin as we become more holy and look more like Christ. This is a progressive process that will happen until we reach heaven. Paul writing to the Philippian church says it so well. “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:12-13‬ ‭(CSB‬‬)

Finally, there is a future aspect of our salvation called “the coming of salvation”. It is often called glorification, which happens when we see Christ. We will have resurrected bodies and will no longer sin or have a sin nature in our bodies. We will be completely saved from sin and temptation.

Look at what 1 John‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭(CSB‬‬) says “Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is.”

Scripture constantly talks about this as a future salvation. “Besides this, since you know the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:11‬ ‭(CSB‬‬)

These then, are three aspects of our salvation: (1) justification in the past, (2) sanctification in the present, and (3) glorification when we see Christ and have our resurrected bodies. 

There is a coming day where we will no longer wrestle with pride, fight against lust or temptation. One day, we will be completely like Christ and until that time, as believers, “work out our salvation” so we can look more and more like our Lord.