The Results of Salvation
The salvation of a person accompanies several experiential and positional changes. Some of these are:
1. JUSTIFICATION: Justification is a legal term and we can best understand it in a legal sense. The word means to declare a person righteous, i.e. ones state is in harmony with the demands of the law (Ex. 23.7; Deut. 25.1). God is a God of righteousness. He is a just God. As a lawgiver he has to punish those who transgress the law. This means that anyone who does not live in conformity with the law of God has to be punished, because God is a righteous judge. God will not justify the wicked (Ex. 23.6)
Justification can be done in two ways. If a person’s character and actions are in conformity with the demands of the law, such a person can be declared just by a Holy God. This is impossible, because the verdict of the divine judge is that “there is none righteous, no, not one,” (Rom. 3.10).
The other way is to impute the righteousness of a substitute to man and declare him righteous. This does not mean though that a person so declared righteous is inwardly righteous. In other words, ‘justification’ does not denote a change that is brought about in man. Justification is the term that speaks of the standing of a believing sinner before God.
On what grounds can God justify the ungodly without compromising his own justice as Judge? In other words, how can he justify the ungodly?
God who is the righteous judge cannot declare a man righteous without remitting the penalty involved. Man is a sinner and man must pay the penalty, which is death. Therefore, Christ, the Son of God bore the penalty in the stead of man. He died on the Cross of Calvary. God raised Him from the dead. Since the penalty is now remitted God is in a position to acquit a believing sinner from all his unrighteousness, and impute the righteousness of Christ to him, and declare him righteous. In the reckoning of God what happens is this:
Since we are Adam’s children, his sin is imputed unto us and we are reckoned as sinners before God. Our sin is imputed to Christ, and he takes the penalty on our behalf. God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. The condemnation that was on the sinner is not now removed because of his belief in the vicarious death of Christ and his resurrection but God also declares him righteous and brings him into favour with Him.
A believer is justified from all things from which he could not be justified by the Law of Moses (Acts 13.39). This brings peace with God (Rom. 5.1). And he has a hope of God’s glory. We have access into the presence of God before whom the heavens themselves are not pure and who charges the angels with folly! (Job. 4.18). We should realize that even now the culpability of sin still remains in a believer (1 Jn. 1.8).
2. REGENERATION: Regeneration is a miracle that is beyond words to mention. Nicodemus was a Jew, a member of the race with whom the God of heaven had covenanted. He was an elite Jew, a Pharisee of Pharisees. He was rich. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a teacher of Israel. He was religious. There was nothing more a young man of the first century could ask for. But he knew that Jesus was different from every one of them. He came to Jesus one night! Jesus told him: “except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (Jn.3.3). Repentance, faith, conversion, and regeneration: This was the path to the kingdom of God. But to be born again! How can this be! This was a miracle that could not be understood by Nicodemus.
Man is spiritually dead. What he needs is not religion, or education but regeneration. He needs life. Man is dead in trespasses and in sins (Eph. 2.1). How can a dead body raise itself? It has ears but cannot hear, heart that cannot beat, will that cannot respond. Human efforts cannot revive the body. A preacher’s preaching or a professor’s education cannot regenerate the body. Not only he is dead spiritually; he is without Christ and without hope in this world. There is death, corruption and decay around us; darkness and despair are everywhere. Spiritually dead man cannot give himself life. He is totally helpless.
God must intervene. He must take the initiative, and He has! If a whale has to be harnessed to the plow it must change its nature. So must a dog if it has to live in the deep. A hairy caterpillar can become a beautiful butterfly. It has the potential. Likewise a spiritually dead man can be regenerated. He has the potential because he is made in the image of God.
The prerogative is of God. Saul of Tarsus was a Jew who persecuted the church of God. God gave life to this dead Jew, and regenerated him into Paul the Apostle.
Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God who moves over the waters of the deep While participating in the original creation, comes to the rescue of man. He uses the Word of God, which is living and powerful. This incorruptible seed is planted in the dead soul. This word convinces the soul of its sin and its need of a Saviour and enables him to look to the Lord.
Lazarus of Bethany was dead. But the dead heard the voice of Jesus Christ and he came forth alive. Likewise a dead soul hears the voice of the Spirit and is made alive. The Spirit is life and He alone can give life. The wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell from where it comes and where it goes; so is every one who is born of the Spirit (Jn. 3.8).
Regeneration is not reformation. It is not a repaid done to the old man. It is not a face-lift. It is not a white wash to give a new appearance. It is completely new creation. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor. 5.17).
3. ADOPTION: Adoption is the natural outcome of justification. When justified by faith we have a new standing before God. When we are born again, regenerated, we receive a new life from God. But when we are adopted we have a new position in the family of God.
When we are born again, we become the children of God (Jn. 1.12, 13). This is our relationship to God. In adoption something more happens. A believer, who is already a child of God, is placed in the position of an adult son (Gal. 4.1-5) with all its privileges.
Before conversion we were children of wrath by nature (Eph. 2.3). Our natural predisposition was towards anger and bitterness. Satan energized our character of disobedience to God and we were disposed to disobey God. As children of disobedient Adam we wilfully followed him (Eph. 5.6). God’s wrath was also upon us (Rom. 1.18). Death and future judgement were what we were waiting for.
Now as believers we are adopted into the family of God. We have received the Spirit of Adoption which enables us to call God “Abba Father’ (Gal. 4.6). The Spirit of God witnesses with our spirit that w
e are the children of God. This is our assurance. We have also the privilege of being led by the Spirit of God. He guides us in our pilgrim journey (Rom. 8.14, 16).
A father may disinherit his natural child, but he can never disinherit his adopted child. In explaining the Biblical doctrine of adoption Paul has in mind the Roman Law. According to the Roman law no father can disinherit a legally adopted son. So is the case in our country also. As an adopted children we become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Gal. 4.7). There is going to be no change at all in our adoption.
We have a family name too. The different aspects of our character are described in this family name. We are called ‘saints’ because we are separated unto God, our Father (1 Cor. 1.1, 2). We are ‘believers’ because we believe in God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. We are also called ‘disciples’ because our Lord teaches us. And we are ‘brethren’ because we are born of the Father into his family and we are brothers of one another.
Father’s love and care are upon us. He knows and provides our needs. His ears are open to our cry. Sometimes when we disobey Him it would be necessary for the Father to chasten us (Heb. 12.5-11). This is but the token of His love. Fatherly comfort is given to us (2 Cor. 1.4)
One day we shall be conformed to the image of his son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We are everyday being changed from glory to glory into the same image (2 Cor. 3.18). When the Lord Jesus Christ comes again to take us home we shall see him and we shall be like him. We shall receive an inheritance reserved for us in heaven (1 Pet. 1.3-5). The redemption of our body will be complete. This is the consummation of adoption (Rom. 8.23).
4. SANCTIFICATION AND GLORIFICATION: Many children of God are worried and become unsure of their salvation when some serious sin occurs in their lives. They doubt their salvation, and loose the joy of salvation. This robs them of the vitality of Christian life. Some come to the conclusion that they have done some unpardonable sin and therefore they have lost their salvation. This makes them more miserable than ever and their last stage becomes worse than the beginning. All these are because they do not understand the salvation that they have received from the Lord.
We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2.8). When we are saved we are saved immediately from sin’s penalty, because Christ has paid the penalty on our behalf. The judgement has been taken away from us. We need not feel guilty before God. In fact we have been justified before God and accepted by him. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Rom. 8.33, 34). This happened once and for all in our life. This situation is not ever going to charge. It is irreversible.
This does not mean that the culpability to sin has been taken away from us. It is still with us. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves (1 Jn. 1.8).
Positionally, God has also sanctified us. But there is another aspect of sanctification, which is progressive and practical. Sanctification removes from us the pollution of ins and renews us ever increasingly in conformity with the image of the Son. In the present sense we are progressively saved from the power of sin.
Jesus Christ who loved us and gave His life for us is now cleansing us day by day and will present us to Himself without spot or wrinkle. Today He is our High Priest interceding for us at the right hand of God. Since He was tempted in all points like we are, except sin, he is able to give us succour when we are tempted. So, he helps us in our weakness. We are asked to go to Him or help in time of need (Heb. 4.15, 16). But if in spite of this we sin, He is our Advocate pleading for us. So in His present ministry he is praying and pleading for us.
Today Christ is also cleansing the church with the washing of water by the word. This is also part of the sanctification work (Eph. 5.26). One day he shall present us to Himself without any spot.
At the same time sanctification is our responsibility also. This is what is called practical sanctification.
5. PRACTICAL SANCTIFICATION: The word sanctification is used of (1) separation to God (1 Pet. 1.2) and also (2) the course of life befitting those so separated (1 Thes. 4.3, 7). In practical sanctification we consider the later aspect.
A great Bible scholar W.E. Vine explains about sanctification: “Sanctification is God’s will for the believer (1 Thes. 4.3) and His purpose in calling him by the gospel v.7. It must be learned from God.v.4, as He teaches it by His word (Jn. 17.17, 19) and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, (1 Tim. 2.15; Heb. 12.14). For the holy character, (1 Thes. 3.13) is not vicarious, i.e. it cannot be transferred or imputed, it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and of following the example of Christ, (Matt. 11.29; Jn. 13.15; Eph. 4.20; Phil. 2.5) in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8.13; Eph. 3.16) (Notes on Thessalonians by Hogg and Vine).
The ideas of separation (Deut. 7.6) purity and cleanness (Hab. 1.13; Lev. 11.44, 45) moral perfection (2 Sam.22.31; Lev. 22.21; Matt. 5.48) are included in sanctification.
One day God will sanctify us wholly (1 Thes. 5.23). This is the Christian goal. But is this goal achievable in the present life? We are asked to be steadfast, to continue, to be zealous etc.
Biblical testimony to sin in us should not be forgotten (1 Jn. 1.8). Perfect holiness becoming a reality in this life is not suggested anywhere in scripture. But scripture gives continuous encouragement not to grow weary and faint, to accept God’s frequent and painful discipline, and to strengthen feeble arms and knees (Heb. 12.3-13). Therefore there should be a continual personal purification till the Rapture. Jesus Christ will come again and the dead in Christ shall rise first and the believers who remain alive will be transformed and together they will be caught up in the air to be with the Lord always (1 Thes. 4.13-17). This is the rapture.
Sometimes scripture teaches perfection in the lives of many saints. Noah is characterized as a “righteous man, blameless in his generation (Gen. 6.9)” This is only relative perfection. Compared to his contemporaries Noah was righteous. Job is another person described as “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job. 1.1). This is also relative to others in his generation. They were not having sinless perfection.
Paul mentions about those who are “perfect” or “mature” saints (Eph. 4.13-14). Here also Paul does not mean ‘sinless perfection’ but mature Christians.
A distinction between the goal in Christian life and its fulfilment should always be borne in mind. The goal is to grow in holiness and should ever be before the believer. “Be thou perfect as thy father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5.48)’. There is much error if we do not devote ourselves to this pursuit of holiness, but to claim it as an accomplished fact is much more dangerous.
We need continuous renewal of the whole man after the image of God and need to die unto sin and alive unto righteousness (Tit. 3.5; cf. Rom. 6.11).
We need to be renewed in our spirit (2 Cor. 7.1) Pride should be turned into humility; bitterness into sweetness; judgmental spirit into a spirit of love (Eph. 4.31-32)
We need to be renewed in our soul. Our mind is affected here (Rom. 12.2; Phil. 2.5). We bring every thought of the mind to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10.5).
We need to be renewed
in our emotions. Our feelings and desires are changed here (Gal. 5.17, 24). Youthful passions should be shunned (2 Tim. 2.21-22). Grace of God teaches us to do this (Tit. 2.1112).
We need to be renewed in our will (Rom. 12.1, 2; Jn. 7.17; Col. 1.9-10). Our will should be surrendered to God. We should order our lives in complete submission to Him.
In sanctification our body is also affected. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6.19, 20). There is an emphasis to the body in practical sanctification (1 Thes. 4.3). Our body and its members should be submitted as instruments or righteousness (Rom. 6). Our bodies should not be used for prostitution in any form (1 Cor. 6.15-17)
How does this sanctification occur in our lives? What method is to be adopted to achieve this?
We are sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1.2) and He himself will finally sanctifies (Phil. 1.6). By His work in us he will make us what we were declared to be in our salvation.
But from the human side: W were dead in sins earlier. But after salvation we should die to sin in the sense we should reckon it to be so. Sin should not have dominion over us (Rom. 6.14). When temptation comes we should say ‘No’ to it and should not succumb to it (cf.Rom. 8.13). By the power of the Holy Spirit we should put to death our sinful members (Col. 3.5). This is the negative side of practical sanctification.
Positively we should live for righteousness (Rom. 6.19). This is possible when we obey the Word of God (Ps. 119.11). The word of God cleanses us (Jn. 15.3; Eph. 5.26).
Our central focus should be Christ himself (Heb. 12.1, 2). He is our example (1 Pet. 2.24). When we follow him we will be changed from glory to glory into the same image (2 Cor. 3.18).
New Testament describes the present Christ life by the word ‘walk’. We are exhorted to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 2.25). We should not go back to any bondage. Spirit gives us freedom to walk, as we ought to. (Christian Walk or personal life is the subject matter of the Follow Up Series No. 4 “How do I walk?”)
We are asked not to sin. But if we sin, we need to confess our sins to Him, and he is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1.9).
Justification happens in the tribunal of God, but does not change our inner life. Sanctification changes our inner life. In sanctification we become what we were declared to be in justification. Sanctification is a process that continues through out the earthly life of a believer. When we dedicate our lives to God, the Spirit of God puts to death the deeds of the body (Rom. 8.13). He also works in us obedience to the word (1 Pet. 1.22) and produces in us the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22, 23). Sanctification will be complete only when the Lord comes. The God of peace will sanctify us wholly. Our whole spirit and soul and body will be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The believer will be finally saved from the presence of sin itself.
When this happens we shall be glorified. We shall be like him in our glorified bodies. Our salvation is secure. Our Lord said “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand Jn. 10.28)”. Our life at present is hid in God.
Let Us Conclude
I am confident that your new spiritual life has given you much joy. This joy becomes all the more meaningful and intense when we realize what all is included in ‘salvation’.
As you noted in the previous pages, salvation is not just an escape from hell. Rather, it is made up of several gifts – all given by God in His mercy. This must make us grateful to Him all our lives. And that takes us to the second subject studied in this series.
We saw that after salvation God expects us to take our sanctification seriously. After He set us apart positionally, God expects each one of us to go through this experience of separation every of our lives. This should come not as a result of any pressure, but as a consequence of our gratefulness and joy for what He has done for us. Since these are all new ideas, you might not understand it all immediately. Do not despair. Read this booklet again. Also, ask the believers around you. Mot of them will be very happy to help you if you take the initiative to ask them.
Now that you are a member of a divine family, you are not alone. You are part of a new group, and that will require some adjustments. In the next booklet we will study about this collect life.
God bless you !
The Series Editor