Last week we defined salvation as meaning “to be saved, delivered, or rescued from the consequences of sin”. When we repent of our sins and are saved our eternal redemption is immediately secured, but we still struggle with the consequences of sin in this life. This reality indicates that salvation is not fully completed or manifested at the moment of conversion. As such, salvation is not limited to an event or single decision. Instead, it can be rightly said that a believer has been saved (past), is being saved (present), and will be saved (future) as the process of salvation unfolds. This process is characterized by regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification which are defined by The Baptist Faith and Message as follows -
A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in
Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the
sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are
inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the
acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.
B. Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners
who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor
C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's
purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and
power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate
D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the
We also concluded in the first part of this discussion that salvation involves the redemption of the whole man - that is the spirit, the soul, and the body. The spirit is that immaterial part of the person that is conscious of God. The soul is also immaterial, and is the mind, thoughts, will, emotions, and desires of the person. It is who the person is - his personality. The body is the physical vessel through which the soul is animated and able to act.
Regeneration is the quickening of the spirit within a person. In its natural state the human spirit is dead due to sin. It is inherently sinful, exercising great influence over the will and emotions of the man (the soul). But when the Holy Spirit comes into a person’s life at the moment of salvation their spirit is made alive. This change results in a new spiritual condition or nature, in which the spirit is made righteous. Thus, the living spirit encourages the soul of the man to live righteously.
Justification is the work of God in which the righteousness of Jesus Christ is reckoned to the sinner, and they are therefore declared righteous by God. His imputed righteousness serves as the justification for God to drop all charges of guilt against the sinner, and free him from the penalty of sin and death. Justification restores the relationship between God and man, because the man has been acquitted from their sin and judged by God to be "not guilty".
Despite the urgings of our regenerated spirit (as directed by the Holy Spirit), the soul of a believer will still struggle with sin. This dual nature - the battle between the soul and the spirit - creates conflict between the “old man” and the “new man” within the life of the believer. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we think, do, and desire. As we learn to submit our will to the leadership of God, our soul conforms increasingly into the image of Christ. This is the process of sanctification - continually growing into the likeness of the Lord, finally realizing complete sanctification when we meet Jesus face to face.
Glorification is the future and final work of God upon Christians, where he transforms our mortal physical bodies to the eternal incorruptible bodies in which we will dwell forever. It has not yet occurred, but rather will take place when Christ returns.
As you can see, the work of salvation involves all parts of the man and is completed over time - not all at once. Next week we will study God’s grace, election, and eternal security. Please join us. Until then, may the LORD richly bless you.