“I was saved in 1970.”
In that same year, in the United States, the Dow Jones reached 838 points (now over 16,800), average cost of a new home reached $23,450, average household income topped $9,400 per year, gas cost 36 cents a gallon, and a postage stamp was six cents. The Apollo 13 crew survived an aborted trip to the moon, and the Beatles disbanded.
It was quite the year! Did I mention I was saved?
In evangelical circles, we typically talk about salvation as a past event. Many of us can even cite a date and place when it happened. It’s a little like a graduation date; the date I stopped one phase of my life and began another.
The Apostle Paul seems to have had a slightly different view of salvation. More often than not, he preferred to think of salvation as a future event. We will be saved from the wrath of God in judgment. It’s less something that has already happened; more an event that lies ahead of us. Meanwhile, we have been justified … made right with God … and this guarantees that we will be saved (Romans 5:9).
The order seems somewhat consistent: We have been justified (made right with God), are being sanctified (being changed into the image of Christ), will be saved (from God’s wrath on the Judgment Day), to then be glorified (privileged with God’s Presence for eternity).
Does it matter that we mix the terms together, that we blur the boundaries?
Perhaps not. Paul himself is not 100% consistent. But I like the idea that I have been made right with God (justified). It’s relational, not merely positional. Being right with Him and being changed by Him forms the essence of our Christian faith. And it assures me that the promises of salvation and glorification are true.
I wonder what might happen if we used biblical words in biblical ways. We just might find that it helps us tell the story of faith — the story of our faith — with greater clarity. Just a thought.