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  • Writer's pictureSteve McAtee

The Three Tenses of Salvation

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Day 20 of the 22 Day Salvation Study

Notes compiled by Steve McAtee and Marty Zide


Salvation is the work of God whereby He transforms a soul from the grips of condemnation (eternal wrath) to one of eternal life. The idea of true salvation from beginning to end is God’s. He thought of it and provided all that was necessary to make it possible for a human being to be rescued from the wrath of God. That’s why Scripture says that salvation is of the Lord.

Salvation is the gracious work of God whereby He delivers gospel believing sinners from sin and it’s results; and brings them into a right, vital relationship with Himself; and bestows on them the riches of His grace.

The Past Tense of Salvation - IT’S ALREADY DONE

Theologically this is called justification.

It refers to that part of the work of salvation which is already accomplished in and for the one who has believed in Messiah Jesus.

Justification is the act of God whereby He declares the believer to be righteous and places him in a no condemnation status.

Justification is a one time act. We do not grow in our justification. It took place the moment we believed in Messiah Jesus.

It primarily refers to our position that we now have as believers in Messiah Jesus.

Justification deals with our being saved from the guilt and penalty of our sin.

Eph. 1:7 - In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.

Rom. 8:1 - There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Jesus.

Tim. 1:8-9 - Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Messiah Jesus from all eternity.

Our inner human nature (our soul and spirit) was delivered from inherent corruption and was renewed with the divine impartation of spiritual life. This has already taken place.

The Present Tense of Salvation - IT’S BEING DONE

Theologically this is called sanctification.

It refers to that which is now being accomplished in and for the one who has believed in Messiah Jesus.

Sanctification is the activity of God whereby He sets His people apart unto Himself for His use.

Because of sanctification, we can now experience occasions of deliverance from the power of sin, the temptations of Satan, and the allurement of the world.

It refers to that which is now being accomplished in and for the one who has believed in Messiah Jesus.

Presently we are being saved from the power and dominion of sin. This is made possible as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and obey God’s Word.

Ps. 119:9 - How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.

Ps. 119:11 - Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.

Gal. 5:16 - But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

James 1:21 - Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

In contrast to justification which is a one-time event, sanctification is a process that should be growing as the years of being saved passes. We should increase in our conformity to the Lord Jesus.

All true believers who are justified will enter into the process of sanctification. There is no such thing as a true believer who is justified that does not experience some sanctification.

The Future Tense of Salvation - IT WILL BE DONE

Theologically this is called glorification. We’ll be saved from the very presence of sin.

It refers to that which will be accomplished to complete the work of God in and for the one who has believed in Messiah Jesus.

Glorification is the activity of God whereby He completes our salvation. This will be done in heaven.

Rom. 8:23 - And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

Phil. 3:20-21 - For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus the Messiah; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

1 John 3:1-2 - See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

Salvation will be totally complete when we are in heaven. That’s when glorification will become a reality. Until then we live in a corrupt fallen world, in an unredeemed body that is

still subject to the consequences of the fall. However, we must remember that we have been justified and we are being sanctified.

Peter calls our future glorification a living hope and an inheritance which is reserved in heaven for us. By focusing in on it, it will enable us to rejoice, even in the midst of trials and tribulations. We should all be longing for this day when we will be with the Lord Jesus for all eternity.

Pet. 1:3-4,6 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.

All true believers have been justified and are in the process of being sanctified. The believer’s assurance is that they will also be glorified. Once justification has taken place, glorification is guaranteed.

Rom. 8:29-30 - For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

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