What is salvation in the present tense?

As Christians, it is easy for us to focus exclusively on the past and future tense aspects of our salvation.

In the past tense, we have been saved, as in, we have been delivered from the penalty of sin. We have been redeemed (Ephesians 1:7), reconciled (Romans 5:10), justified (Romans 3:21-26), forgiven (Acts 13:38), and adopted (Romans 8:15). Through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice and glorious resurrection, our salvation is accomplished, finished, completed. It is a done deal.

In the future tense, we will be saved, as in, we are promised an eternity in heaven. We will be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15), glorified (Romans 8:30), and receive an eternal inheritance in the most wonderful place imaginable (see Revelation chapters 21-22). Romans 8:30 puts our glorification in the past, indicating that it is just as much of a done deal as the past tense aspects of salvation, even though it is in the future.

But, what about the present tense? What does it mean that we are being saved (see 1 Corinthians 1:18)?

Theologically, being saved is known as progressive sanctification. It is God conforming us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), making us more like Him. It is the Holy Spirit increasingly empowering us to be victorious (Romans 8:13), with less sin (Galatians 5:19-21) and more fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Another crucial aspect of present-tense salvation, though, is the abundant life we have in Christ (John 10:10). What makes life in Christ so abundant?

When we feel out of control (or, more accurately, realize we are out of control), we can rest in the arms of the God who is always in control (Isaiah 46:10).

When things seem hopeless, we can rely on the God of hope (Romans 15:13).

When our lives seem broken beyond repair, we can trust in the God who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

When we experience pain, suffering, tragedy, and loss, we can find strength and peace in the God who cares (1 Peter 5:7).

When we are searching for answers, we can go to the God who knows all and promises to give us what we need when we need it (Matthew 7:7; 10:19; James 1:5).

When we feel alone, we can trust that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5–6).

Life in Christ is exceptionally abundant. While the past and future tense aspects of salvation are “so great” (Hebrews 2:3), the present tense benefits are astounding as well. We have been saved. We will be saved. We are being saved, and this being saved aspect, where we all currently walk, is just as much a part of the glorious salvation God has provided.

Salvation in Christ is perfect and complete, no matter the tense.

S. Michael Houdmann

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What is salvation in the present tense?