Salvation – Past, Present, and Future
"We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.” -- 2 Corinthians 1:9-10
Salvation has a past tense, because "the works were finished from the foundation of the world." It has a present tense, "for we which have believed do enter into rest." And it has a future tense, for "there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God" (Heb. 4:3, 9). Salvation is past, because God has “delivered us from so great a death.” Salvation is present, because our God “doth deliver.” And salvation is future, because “he will yet deliver us.”
A Big Word
Salvation is a big, big word. It includes all the redemptive, saving acts of our Lord and every blessing of his grace. It cannot be isolated to one aspect of grace. When we think of salvation, we must include election, redemption, justification, regeneration, preservation, sanctification, and glorification.
The hardshells, Primitive Baptists, go astray by making election alone salvation. The fundamentalists go astray by making the experience of faith the whole of salvation. Salvation is not God's decree alone. Neither is it our experience of grace alone. Salvation is both God's decree in eternity and conversion in time, and much more.
The word "salvation" includes everything that is required to bring a fallen, depraved, justly condemned sinner from the dungeon of ruined humanity into eternal union with the Son of God in glory.
Salvation is our safety and preservation from all danger by the power and grace of God. It is our deliverance from sin and hell, and our final and eternal enjoyment of God in heaven, through the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
All By Grace
This entire work of grace, past, present, and future, is God's work alone. "Salvation is of the Lord." God began the work of salvation in eternal predestination, election, and covenant grace. God carries the work on in time. In time he redeemed us by the blood of Christ. In time he called us by the irresistible power of his Spirit. In time he preserves us in life by his faithfulness and power. And, in time to come, our God will perfect that work in us which he began in eternity and is performing now.
If you are saved today by the grace of God, it is because God gave you salvation in Christ before the world began, purchased salvation for you on the cross, and performed salvation in you by his Spirit. And "he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."