Can we as Christians have assurance of salvation? Can we feel secure about our salvation now, and if yes, on what basis? What are the conditions we need to fulfil in order to be saved now?
Many reject the idea that on the cross the salvation of the sinful world accomplished by Jesus was full, complete and finished because they think it contradicts the truth about Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. If our salvation was finished on the cross then what Jesus is doing now in the heavenly sanctuary doesn’t make sense.
- BIBLE USES THREE DIFFERENT TENSES (PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE) WITH REGARDS TO OUR SLAVATION
Answering another vital question will help us to find the solution to the pereviouslly mentioned problem:
Why the Bible uses 3 different tenses with regards to our salvation? It says we were already saved by Christ in the past; it also teaches us that we are being saved now in the present continuous tense; and it also states that we will be saved in the future!
- SALVATION AS PAST EXPERIENCE
Let us start from the few passages that use past tense talking about our salvation:
One of my favourite texts in the Bible is John 5.24 because it tells us that salvation is something we already have if we believe.
John 5.24: “Very truly I tell you (Greek says: Amen, amen, I tell you the truth), whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
Lord Jesus wanted to assure us here that if we read the Word of God and believe in everything God tells us about the gift of salvation He provided for us in Jesus then:
- We have eternal life (we can be sure we have it);
- We won’t be judged;
- And we have already passed from death to life!
Also in 1John 5:9-13 we read similar words: “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.”
Now, what is this testimony of God about His Son which if we do not accept we make God a liar?
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life (past tens), and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know (you may be sure) that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
It means that we make God a lier if we do not believe we already have been saved. And in order to stay saved and maintain this salvation all we need is to preserve the faith in Jesus. We need to continually believe in Him and His already accomplished salvation until our death!
In 2Corinthians 5:19 we read that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” We where in Jesus through the representative corporate sinful human nature He took and God was in Him through Christ’s divine nature. And what God did in Jesus on the Cross? He condemned and destroyed our egocentric sinful nature (the matrix of sin) Jesus took to the cross (Romans 8:3) and in this way He legally reconciled the whole sinful world to Himself on the cross! When this reconciliation (salvation) took place? It happened two thousand years ago when Jesus cried out, “it is finished!” It means your salvation already took place long time ago in the past, it is already done. The only one thing we are expected to do is to accept it.
Ephesians 2:4-10: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us (past tense) alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The Bible is very clear stating that we all died together with Christ, we resurrected with Him and were made sit with Hi in the heavenly places!
- SALVATION AS PRESENT EXPERIENCE
Philippians 2:12-13: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose” (context is talking about sanctification).
- SALVATION AS FUTURE EXPERIENCE
ROMANS 5.9-11 is excellent passage as here PAUL USES 2 TENSES TALKING ABOUT OUR SALVATION: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (WE WERE SAVED IN THE PAST AND WE WILL BE SAVED IN THE FUTURE)
Romans 13:11: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed”.
So, how can we have assurance of salvation now when we read in the Bible that apart from the fact that we were saved in Jesus in the past, we are also being saved now, and we will be saved in the future?
The Bible uses three tenses with regards to our salvation simply because it talks about 3 different aspects of salvation:
- We have been already saved in the past from the condemnation and punishment of sin (from second death) in the past tense. This past aspect refers to our justification.
- We are being now saved from the power and slavery of sin now, and this present aspect refers to our sanctification.
- And we will be saved in the future from the presence and nature of sin, which is our glorification.
When we keep it in mind while reading the Bible we won’t be confused any more. The first aspect of salvation is finished but the other two are not!
Now, when I say we are already saved in Jesus and that our salvation is already accomplished act which took place 2000 years ago on the cross when Jesus said “It is finished”, you may say, “but what about our unique message of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary“? Why is Jesus ministering for us there if we are already saved?
The answer is simple, and both truths do not contradict each other because Christ’s ministry in sanctuary deals with what aspect of salvation from sin? Not the past but present! The following quote from one of the articles by pastor Jack Sequeira will help us to answer the question and solve the whole problem:
“According to the clear teaching of the New Testament, Christians must consider their salvation in all three tenses: past, present, and future. Therefore, as Christians we can say: ‘I am already saved,’ ‘I am being saved now,” and “I will be saved in the future‘. When it comes to the subjective experience of salvation, believers are already saved from the guilt and punishment of sin [read John. 5:24; Rom. 8:1]. But, since we still possess sinful natures, we are being saved daily from the slavery and power of sin. Finally, at His coming we will be saved from the very nature and presence of sin [read Rom. 8:23-25; Phil. 3:20, 21.] But, in Christ, all three are already ours. This is why believers can have full assurance of salvation.”
So, do we contradict the truth about Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary by saying that salvation on the cross was complete and finished? No, because at the cross only the first aspect of salvation was finished once and for all. Two thousand years ago through His holy life in our flesh and through His death Jesus did not solved all aspects of sin problem. On the cross He saved us from the condemnation and punishment of sin but the problem of our slavery to sin wasn’t solved there yet. This is why Lord Jesus is ministering for us in heaven now and what He already accomplished for us through the gospel gave Him right to dwell in us now together with Holy Spirit to to continue the process of giving us the victory over sin in our daily Christian walk.