– Pastor Robbie Cheuvront
The question that I proposed revolved around this “already but not yet” idea. Remember, we talked about how when Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God, He would say that the kingdom of God has come. But almost in the same breath, He would also tell us what it is going to look like when it comes. Confusing? Maybe. But perhaps by diving into this subject that I brought up Monday, we can bring some clarification to this whole idea.
You’ll remember that what I proposed was: Yes, Paul was speaking about those who would be saved in the future, but that he was also talking about those who were already saved, and that our salvation, too, was an already, but not yet thing. Here’s what I mean by that.
When God gives you the faith to see Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the savior of your soul, through the forgiveness of your sins (Eph 2), you are justified before God. What that means is: God no longer sees you as a rebellious, sinful, debt-owing child of wrath. Rather, when He looks upon you, He sees the righteousness of Christ standing before you. In other words, Jesus steps in front of you and says, “They’re mine!” And in that instance, God the Father accepts Jesus’ sacrifice of His death, on your behalf, and you are granted entrance into the kingdom of heaven. So why, then, when we profess Christ, do we just not die right then and go to heaven? I mean, that’s what it was all about anyway, right?
Not exactly. See, there are three parts of our salvation. There is the justification, which I just spoke of above. And when you stand before God at the end of your days, there is what is called Glorification. This is where you will be fully redeemed and restored back to a perfect, sinless creation in a physical form, so that you may live forever with God. But there’s a middle part, too. That part is called sanctification. And so when Paul says, “but to those of us who are being saved,” what he is speaking about is this process by which God brings us through, shaping us, molding us, changing us, more into the likeness of Christ.
Peter speaks of this extensively in his epistles, 1st and 2nd Peter. He talks specifically, in his opening statements to the church that we are “…being guarded by faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1Peter 1:5). All of this shows us that our salvation is not just a one-and-done thing.
I say all of that to say this: Believer, you have been justified by God in His sight, the moment you professed Christ as your King and Savior. However, we are not called to remain in the state that we are in when God saves us. We have work to do. The scriptures, James particularly, says that if we truly have regenerate faith, meaning we have been saved by Christ, our lives WILL exhibit certain traits, or what the Bible calls, fruits of the spirit. We come to these traits by following Christ, as the Holy Spirit leads and guides us. And this may require that we go through some tough times. The reason is, we are being made into the likeness of Christ. If Christ suffered to be brought to the place where He would atone for our sins, then we too must suffer, in order to be made more like Him. For some of us, that suffering is great. For others, not so much. But either way, count it as pure joy, when those times come by you. For it is then that God is shaping and molding you into what He wants you to be. It is then that he “is saving” you!
Grace and peace to you all.