Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:1-4 – NIV)
Being born-again, becoming a child of God is the greatest thing that could ever happen to anyone. Salvation is a free gift of God to everyone who believes. As a pastor, one of the issues I get to deal with is people asking me questions related with how to make sense of their salvation. How much can one do to remain saved? What are the minimum requirements one has to fulfill in order to escape hell and go to heaven? Or, since I am saved by grace, then my performance doesn’t really matter—can I live the way I want?
Understanding our Salvation
According to the Word of God, there are three aspects of our salvation: the past, present and future.
- We have been saved from the penalty of sin (past). When we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we were saved. God declared us not guilty. This is called justification. We now have peace with God. We are no longer God’s enemies. (See Romans 5:1 and Romans 8:1). Our responsibility was to receive this God’s gift of salvation by faith.
- The present aspect of salvation is that we are being saved from the power of sin. It is also called We are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. When God saved us he gave us a new nature—His nature. We are spiritually wired to please God. We are sensitive to the things of God. What this means, is that I have to align my passions, thoughts, ambitions, lifestyles, etc. to God’s will. I start living a life directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is still the work of God’s grace. It’s not based on our human performance. The Holy Spirit helps us live out the implications of God’s saving grace in our lives.
We were saved not to go to hell, per se. We were saved to have a living, dynamic relationship with the living God. Think about it this way: The purpose of a good marriage is not to avoid a divorce. A better motivation to keep a marriage is because you want to be in a dynamic, loving and lifelong relationship with your partner. Grace is no license to sin. Although there is no sin greater than God’s grace, God’s forgiveness does not make sin any less serious. We were saved to have eternal life—full life in and with God.
- Finally, we shall be saved from the presence of sin : glorification. When Jesus Christ returns, we shall be with Him forever. There will be no sin. We will be saved from the suffering and pain of this world. For this reason we patiently, hopefully and joyfully wait for His return (see Romans 8:18).