Pastor Terry Tatum
We are in a series titled Big Words, where we hope to explain some of the difficult concepts that we often speak of in the church world, but not everyone understands.
Two weeks ago Pastor Craig taught us about Prevenient Grace (the grace that precedes salvation), which led us to last week’s message on Conversion (where we go from who we are to who God has called us to be).
We covered the fact that conversion has two sides: Human and Divine. God’s part of the process is achieved by His grace alone while our part is accomplished through faith. We looked at how John Wesley, the founder of our denomination, used the visual of a front porch to explain the process of salvation, with conversion being the porch, salvation being the front door and sanctification being the interior of the house.
Today we are going to look at what happens when conversion takes place … Salvation.
What is salvation? Simply put, it’s the deliverance from sin and its consequences.
There are several different terms for salvation that you might have heard before, including “justification,” “saving grace,” and “being saved.” These terms are hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it.
While salvation is one experience, several things happen when a person is saved.
Last week we discussed that repentance and belief are what bring about conversion. Salvation is also a process. It goes like this:
Justification + Regeneration + Initial Sanctification = Salvation
We have to go through this process, as complicated as it sounds, because we are sinners, just like every other human who has ever walked this Earth starting with Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, Satan came along, deceived Eve and she and Adam sinned. Ever since then sin has been a part of our lives. We have all sinned against God and our sin separates us from God.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12)
But here’s the good news about salvation … It covers past, present and future sins.
Past: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
Present: For 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. (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV)
Future: Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:9 NIV)
Salvation never stops. Once we walk through the door it lasts forever!
Now let’s look at the different parts of the process of salvation. Earlier we said that Justification + Regeneration + Initial Sanctification = Salvation. Let’s look first at Justification.
Justification is the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God (made right with God.) It’s “what God does for us” through Jesus and His saving work on the cross. It’s the pardon/forgiveness of our sin.
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. (2 Corinthians 5:19a NLT)
Justification brings liberation from the past.
As John Wesley said, “His sins, all his past sins, in thought, word, and deed, are covered, are blotted out, shall not be remembered or mentioned against him, any more than if they had not been.” (JW’s Message 64)
Justification does not mean God thinks your sins didn’t happen. It means that, in His grace, God chooses to liberate us from them.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty of our sins.” (Romans 3:23-24 NLT)
This reality is regardless of our own feelings.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. (Isaiah 43:25 GWT)
Note: That verse does not say, “You will not remember your sins anymore…” It says God will remember your sins no more.
If you have walked through the door from death to life you have been “justified,” and made right with God.
The next part of the salvation process is regeneration.
REGENERATION (New birth)
Regeneration is when God brings a person to new life. It’s “what God does in us.”
Physical birth is when something comes into existence which has never been alive before. Spiritual birth is when spiritual nature becomes alive in a way it never has before.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5 NLT)
Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
Regeneration enables sinners to become saints (“holy ones of God”).
John Wesley said, “What is the nature of the new birth? … In a word, it is that change whereby the earthly, sensual, devilish mind is turned into the ‘mind which was in Christ Jesus.’ This is the nature of the new birth: ‘so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.’” (JW’s Theology 102)
This is what enables us to live above and overcome sin. Justification is the salvation from the guilt of sin and regeneration is salvation from the power of sin.
While sin may remain in a believer, it need not reign. “No man sins because he has not
grace, but because he does not use the grace which he has.” (John Wesley)
The final part of the process of salvation is Initial Sanctification.
Initial sanctification is “what God begins in us.”
“You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11b NIV)
We start down the road of purity, righteousness and holiness. This is only the beginning, but it is a beginning. It starts the process of growth in grace.
Justification + Regeneration + Initial Sanctification = Salvation
All of what I just shared is 100% true and can be backed up with Scripture. But I want to be clear on why we are explaining salvation. We want you to understand what God has done for you through Jesus. Let me put it this way:
Do you want to be made right with God? (Justified)
Do you want to become a new creature in Christ, Where the old you dies, and the new you is born? (Regeneration)
Do you want to take the first steps in the process of becoming who God has called you to be? (Initial sanctification)
The door is open, if today is the day that you want to finally get things right with God, or get rid of the sin in your life that keeps weighing you down, or if you finally want to let go of the past, we are here to help you do that.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved… John 10:9a ESV
Will you come through the door today?