Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

Q: How can one be sure he or she is saved? 

A: Salvation can be broken down into three aspects. They are: I was saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.  Salvation is an ongoing work that will be completed. It is for this reason that we are told to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Salvation is clearly not a matter of an intellectual understanding, but a heart revelation of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and embracing its eternal hope on a daily basis as the way and truth to everlasting life (John 14:5; Romans 10:9 & 10). It is important to point out that Jesusdied for sin so that we would not die in sin; rather we would die to sin in order to live unto God.

      According to Parish Reidhead there are four tenses to salvation. When you combine the three aspects of salvation with the four tenses of it, you can somewhat begin to see a complete picture emerge. The four tenses of salvation are: the perfect tense is repentance, the past tense is justification, the present tense is sanctification, and the future tense is glorification.

      Let us begin with the perfect tense of salvation. True repentance will turn you away from the ways of death to face what it means to possess life. As Jesus stated in Luke 13: 3 & 5, “Repent or perish.” Repentance has to do with a complete change of mind, attitude, and conduct in order to come into agreement with what would be considered proper. In this case, we would come into agreement with God and His Word about our sin and His righteousness. Repentance from sin is not one-sided. In other words, we not only turn from sin in order to be saved from it, but we must also be ready to embrace what we must be saved unto. For example, we must be saved from the ways and judgment of sin in order to be saved unto the ways of righteousness. Clearly, the other side of repentance, in relationship to being saved from sin, is being converted to righteousness.

      When one repents, it is to cease from an old way of life to receive, embrace, and possess a new life. Salvation is the essence of receiving Christ as the solution to sin. By receiving Christ, we are actually given the gift of His eternal life. It is the life of Christ in us that stipulates that we have been justified by faith. When we receive the life of Christ, we are born again with the very breath of God, His Holy Spirit. It is the breath of the Spirit that causes the very life of Christ to pulsate through our inner soul. We will have an inner witness as to our spiritual status as children of God. We will no longer stand condemned in our sin, but we have been marked by a heavenly seal to receive an eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:11-14).

      As you can see, the past tense of salvation, justification, is received by faith. We choose to believe that God is true to His Word. We receive His promise and provision of salvation in our heart as truth. Keep in mind, salvation has to do with addressing the influence, workings, and activities of sin upon and in our lives. Even though we may struggle over past failures, we must choose that our present reality is justification. Justification addresses the past influences of sin and declares that they are no more. Because of redemption, we stand before God as if we have never sinned.

      The present tense of salvation deals with the present workings of sin upon our lives.Hebrews 6:9 tells us that there are things that accompany salvation. Sanctification is the work of holiness where we are being set apart by the Spirit of God to live unto God and serve Him in a way that is pleasing. It is important that I reiterate that we are not saved by “good works”; rather, we are saved unto good works that were ordained by God (Ephesians 2:8-10).

      Sanctification is a matter of the Spirit working the very life of Christ in us. The more we learn of Christ, the more we will become like Him as we will take on His disposition of lowliness, His attitude of meekness, and His humble walk of obedience before the Father. We will become more uncomfortable with the profane, more bent towards the ways of righteousness, and more concerned about the lost. As our love for God grows, so will our love for the brethren develop and mature. We will become more so servants in our disposition as we become restless in our souls and homesick. In our restlessness we will learn to wait in expectation for the day in which all activities of sin will be forever silenced, and when we finally enter the door of glory to live with our Lord forever.

      I have long been aware that there are believers who wonder whether they are saved. They do not feel any real assurance about their salvation. It is important to keep in mind that since the seal of salvation is unseen, we must believe we are saved by faith in what Jesus did on the cross, walk as if we are saved because it is the right thing to do, and know we are saved because the assurance of our salvation is based on the character, words, and promise of a loving, merciful God who never changes and is powerful and faithful to see a matter through to the end.