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Pointers along the way #713

Time-line of salvation

- Jacob Ninan

"Are you saved?" is a question some well meaning people ask. They assume that salvation is a one-time event. But salvation begins with an event when a man is regenerated in spirit, forgiven his sins and accepted by God as His child. But then, after that a process called sanctification is to follow in which he is freed more and more from the power of sin to become like Jesus in character and behaviour. God works inside us to give us a desire and strength to do His will and we submit to Him by denying ourselves and doing His will (Php.2:12,13:Lk.9:23). Finally we get glorified in the life to come when we receive a new body like that of Jesus after the resurrection. So, salvation just starts with forgiveness of sins! But many people seem to think that this is all there is to it, and once they have it they are fixed for eternity! Some then expect to receive the full benefit of salvation immediately!

As a result of this error, people claim promises without going through the process of sanctification, and get discouraged when 'nothing happens'! Without cooperating with God and making the right choices when they are tempted, they expect God to do everything for them.

In a somewhat similar parallel, some people expect all the troubles in this life such as sickness or poverty to disappear all of a sudden by 'simply believing', without recognising God's time-line. They don't realise that the effects of sin in the world will not disappear just because Jesus has brought forth salvation. God's plan is that the problems in this earth are going to be corrected only when the new heavens and the new earth come. Till then we will have to reckon with having to face all kinds of problems on this earth (Jn.16:33). How we face such difficulties and the choices we make will directly affect the process of our salvation (Ac.14:22).

In a variation of this erroneous understanding, some Christians are working hard to change the world system with the aim of restoring it to the original state before sin, and making it the (physical) kingdom of God right now. First of all, this earth is only going to become worse in every way. The way God is planning to deal with it is to destroy it with fire (2Pe.3:7,10) and to create a new earth and new heavens (Re.21:1). This is similar to God giving us a new self instead of reforming our old sinful self which is hopelessly corrupt and only fit to be put to death. If we don't understand this time-line, we may get out of step with God. Focussing on reviving the earth and reforming the world system could be like putting the cart before the horse. What is primary is to restore people to God. When people overcome sin, their lives will be changed, and they will also influence society and environment for the better. On the contrary, if people are not changed, whatever improvements we make in the world will be short-lived or reversed.

Our personal salvation and our ministry for the Lord must fit in with His time-line (1Co.3:11-15).


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