As was mentioned at the beginning of this series, after being Christians for more than 50 years, what Chuck and I have learned in our research for this material has totally revolutionized our personal walk with the Lord. We consider the truths contained in the Kingdom, Power and Glory book and these articles to be some of the most life-changing principles we’ve encountered since our new birth. As you can tell, we are passionate about this subject because it has made the whole Bible come even more alive for us.
Most Christians have been taught about the Millennium, but many of them don’t realize that not only our rewards, but also our place of responsibility in the future kingdom will be either won or lost according to our faithfulness in this life. (1 Cor. 3:12-15) In other words, our behavior here on earth matters—it counts! Therefore, there is a huge need for us to recognize our own personal accountability before the Lord. This is what The Kingdom, Power and Glory series tries to convey.
Jesus came to deliver us out of the authority of darkness and bring us into His kingdom of Love. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin (2 Cor. 5:21) and gave His Life so that we could be reconciled back to the Father, be given the authority and the power to overcome the enemy and be trained as His companions to rule and reign with Him over the earth. This is what “salvation” is all about.
“Salvation” literally means to deliver from chains or shackles by a payment or a ransom. Christ, of course, paid that ransom for us by shedding His blood on the Cross. Salvation is a “free gift” that God wants everyone in the world to have. All that is required of us is to believe in what Christ has already done on the Cross and commit our lives to Him. This simple act of faith is called “justification” and is what makes us “declared not guilty” before God. (Rom. 3:26; 4:5-6)
Even though “justification” declares us “positionally” reconciled to God and declared not guilty, “experientially” (in our life actions) we have not changed a bit. Our behavior is exactly the same as it was and our character hasn’t been touched a bit. In other words, the act of “justification” doesn’t automatically transform us into Christ’s image. It simply leads us to the process of “sanctification,” which is how God actually conforms us. Thus, complete salvation is really a lifelong process. One way to view this is: Our spirit is saved at our new birth (justification); our soul is in the process of being saved through the sanctification process. And our bodies will be saved in the future at the resurrection. Consequently, we receive the “salvation of our souls” at the end of our faith, not the beginning.
Both 1 Peter 1:9 and Hebrews 10:39 validate this. Therefore, complete salvation doesn’t consist of one simple choice at the beginning of our faith (to accept Christ as “Savior”), but thou-sands upon thousands of choices to stay faithful, obedient and persevering till the very end (allowing Christ to become “Lord” of our lives). The actual saving of our soul is dependent upon our moment-by-moment choice to “put off” our sin and self and to “put on” Christ. (Eph 4:22-24)
So, even though we have a redeemed spirit as a result of “justification,” until we are sanctified, we still have an unredeemed soul and body. The following CHART is what “justification” looks like:
See CHART 2 - Justification
The gold dot in the middle of the circles represents our re-deemed spirit. It’s gold because at our new birth, it is saved and declared righteous before the Lord. This is a “free gift” just for the asking. Notice, however, the larger and yet, darker grey circle around the gold dot. This circle represents our soul. It’s grey be-cause at this beginning point, it is still unredeemed. It represents our own natural thoughts, emotions and desires that are usually opposite to God’s. Transforming these to Godly thoughts, emotions and desires is what the sanctification process is all about. The outer grey circle, then, represents our body which will be redeemed at the Rapture. This process is called “glorification.”
So, the first step of salvation (“justification”) simply means receiving God’s eternal Life in our spirits (the gold dot). It means we have passed from death (separation from God) to Life (i.e., God is in us).1 However, our soul (the grey circle) still has not changed a bit. It’s still the same as it was before we were born again, our own natural thoughts, emotions and desires.
As we proceed in these articles, when we talk about “justification” always remember the “gold dot” in the center of the circle, our saved spirit. If we should die at this point, we would go to heaven and be with the Lord. Sanctification, on the other hand, means seeing the Life of God that was placed in our hearts when we were born again, actually begin to come forth and transform our souls—His thoughts becoming our thoughts, His Love becoming our love and His will, our will.2
Sanctification is how we are transformed from a “soulish” and “fleshly” man to a “spiritual man.” It’s learning how to actually live Christ’s Life. At this point, because we are being sanctified, we become partakers of Christ’s Life—His Love, wisdom and power—(not just receivers of His Life). The light of Christ’s Life is coming forth—that beam of Light…
See CHART 3 - Sanctification Process
Therefore, justification is really just the first step of salvation. It’s not the end of the race; but only the beginning of our walk with the Lord. (It’s the dot in the middle of the circle, not the beam of light!) God desires to make us in character and action, righteous, holy and set apart so that “beam of light” (God’s Life) can come forth. Unfortunately, this transformation into His image doesn’t happen automatically. It’s going to be our constant and continuing choice!
Receiving the Holy Spirit in our spirit is like the down payment, the pledge or the seal of a much greater commitment that is yet forthcoming. (Ephesians 1:13) In other words, the union of our spirits (justification) is simply a symbol of our “betrothal.” Our “wedding” is still forthcoming! “Justification” is what gets us into the Millennial Kingdom and heaven. It’s what opens the door for us, but “sanctification” (learning to actually live and partake of Christ’s Life) is what will make us those faithful and obedient overcomers who will rule and reign there with Christ.
Christ is the One who will accomplish this transformation in our lives by the power of His Holy Spirit. But we are the ones who must choose to let Him do so moment-by-moment.
Justification is a free gift that we simply receive and em-brace; whereas, sanctification is the process that will outwardly reveal that we have, indeed, been saved. (John 13:35) The whole point here is that salvation truly is a life-long process. Salvation begins with “justification” and the gift of a new Spirit, but the real work involves the “sanctification process” (faithfulness, perseverance and obedience) because that’s what will qualify us to co-reign with Christ in the coming Millennial Kingdom. Therefore, “sanctification” is what the majority of these articles will be about.
“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setting it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.” (Luke 8:16)
To be continued next month: What is Sanctification? This article has been excerpted in part from Chuck and Nan’s new book The Kingdom, Power and Glory.