I remember hearing a famous theologian say in his opening prayer, “Father, thank you for saving me yesterday; thank you for saving me today; and I pray that you will save me tomorrow.”
What did he mean? He prayed that way to make a point. He was emphasizing the ongoing work of God in our lives. Salvation includes justification (past act), sanctification (present work) and glorification (future completion). As some have said, salvation means we are saved from the penalty of sin, are being saved from the power of sin and will be saved from the presence of sin.
Paul touches on this in 1 Cor. 15:1-2 which says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”
Two things Paul mentioned are in the past. The first is that he “preached” to them. He communicated objective truth that could be understood and acted upon. The second thing he mentioned is that they “believed.” Both of these facts are in the past tense. He preached and they responded by belief in Jesus. This is referring to justification. The declaration of righteousness in the court of God forever because of my belief in Jesus who died for my sin and was raised to give me life.
The next two things he mentions are in the present tense. After believing, the readers now “stand” in the grace gospel. Barclay clarifies the meaning of this word when he said, “Standing means established and continuing firm in faith as a tree stands when it is well rooted.”
I am so thankful that I presently stand on the rock of God’s grace in my life. I couldn’t make a righteous standing before God on my own works. He had to do that for me through allowing Jesus to die for me. My faith in him has made my salvation secure, well rooted and unshakable (Rom. 5:1-2).
The last thing Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 15:2 is that I am “being saved.” This is a description of the present ongoing work of God (sanctification) in my life as one of his children. He is progressively making me more like Jesus if I cooperate by yielding to his leadership through his Word. When I yield and follow, he makes me more like Jesus. The fruit of this process is the ultimate outcome of our salvation which is glorification.
Father, your plan of salvation is nothing man could have thought up on his own. I thank you that you have a plan for me. Your plan is that I stand firm in my relationship with you. Nothing can take me away from your love and grace. I thank you that you also designed salvation so that I can enjoy my relationship with you now by yielding to your leadership in my life. The fruit of this will be your continued transformation of my character and the most fulfilling life possible. You are an amazing God!
Following Jesus with you,