Anyone know what the subject line is referring to?
Just add the word "saved" to each phrase.
There's a famous story of the nineteenth-century English scholar, Bishop BF Westcott, who was Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University. He was approached by a student, with an enthusiastic but somewhat impertinent question: 'Are you saved, sir ...?’ ‘Ah,’ said the Bishop, ‘that's a very good question.' And then (as academics are prone to do) he said 'It all depends what you mean by 'saved'. I know I have been saved; I believe I am being saved; and I hope by the grace of God that I shall be saved.’
The Bible speaks of us as 'saved' in these three different ways. Past, present and future. A quick mental review of a few scriptures will soon illustrate how our salvation is spoken of in these different ways in different places.
Past: Titus 3:4-5: "When the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." Past tense.
Present: 1 Corinthians 1:18: "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." Present tense.
Future: Some might point to Matthew 24:12-13 to illustrate this: "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." But I'm thinking of the 'will be' of the future more in the sense of 1 Corinthians 15:42: "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable" and, the loud voice from the throne in Revelation 21:4: “'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
It's very important that we don't mix up our expectations of what each aspect of our salvation involves — what, and when — and, that we understand how to deal with what I would call 'the overlaps'.
Clearly, in the first instance, we have been saved from our past. Forgiven, cleansed, set free and given new life in Christ. It's there to be received and enjoyed.
But that said, stuff from our past can continue to impact us in the present. Our feelings, our thoughts — lingering pain, and guilt — whether experienced as a perpetrator of wrong or as a victim of wrong, can continue to haunt us and affect our lives. Knowing we are forgiven, healed and set free is one thing; feeling it in our hearts and minds is sometimes another. Safe and sensitive prayer ministry and dwelling in the presence of God and his scripture, regularly, and allowing for the time it needs, without putting pressure on ourselves for instant results, is an appropriate approach. So, yes, the past is dealt with, but it can sometimes overlap into the present. I remember when I first received my PhD — I knew it was true, but it took quite a while for the reality to sink in!
In the present, therefore, even though we've been saved we are also being saved.
We experience life in this world where we're doing battle with hostile influences and powers — the world, the flesh and the devil (the 'Unholy Trinity') — and we are susceptible to them. We're still living in a 'perishable' world in 'perishable bodies' (as Paul put it) or, in Johannine terms, 1 John 3:2, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him."
A bit of 'both-and' there — a bit of the "already, but not yet" nature of the Kingdom.
This time period, this present era, is one in which we seek God for our continuing and continuous transformation ('sanctification') to become more and more like Jesus in this world, from 'one degree of glory', one degree of further resemblance, to the next. But it's important that we don't expect too much of 'how things will be' in the Age to Come to be ours in this present age — that's known as an 'over-realized eschatology', i.e. the kind of teaching that says "We can have it all now ... or quite a lot of it now ..." especially in 'health and wealth' terms. The obvious big flaw in (heretical) 'health and wealth' (or 'positive confession') theologies is that everyone still dies — or at least, they have so far ...