The beauty of the Christian life is that we live in what scholars often call the “now and not yet.”

In other words, while we have salvation and redemption NOW, there is also a waiting and longing for our future (completed) salvation and redemption.

Throughout Scripture, salvation is used in all three tenses: we were saved (past), are being saved (present), and will be saved (future).

In this episode, Nathan talks about the three tenses of our salvation and how we can find the beauty and profundity in our “now and not yet” lives.

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The Now and Not Yet

‌Scripture talks about the Christian reality of the “now” and “not yet” — that we experience redemption and salvation now … and yet there is a future day where redemption and salvation will be complete.

For example, Ephesians 1:7 tells us, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our transgressions, according to the riches of His grace …” We have redemption now! Paul says in Colossians 1:13–14, “Who rescued us from the authority of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

And yet, while we currently (“now”) have redemption, there is still a coming day of redemption (see Ephesians 4:30). Paul reminds us in Romans 8:22–23 that we and all creation are “eagerly waiting for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” The fullness of redemption still to come (the “not yet”).

The same is true with salvation. Scripture talks about salvation in three aspects: past, present, and future.

1. Past: We Have Been Saved

  • 2 Timothy 1:9 – [God] who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity …
  • 1 Corinthians 6:11 – And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
  • Titus 2:11 – For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men …
  • Titus 3:4–5 – But when the kindness and affection of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not by works which we did in righteousness, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit …
  • Ephesians 2:8–9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no one may boast.

‌2. Present: We Are Being Saved (ongoing sanctification)

  • 1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
  • 2 Corinthians 2:15 – For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing …
  • Philippians 2:12–13 – So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
    • Salvation is being worked out through God at work in us (i.e., salvation is not over and done with yet)
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13 – But we should always give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
    • An ongoing and complete sanctifying work of God’s Spirit in us (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24) … conforming us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and making us holy without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) – which He does through His Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2:13) and through His Word (John 17:17)

‌3. Future: We Shall Be Saved

  • Romans 5:9–10 – Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
  • Romans 13:11 – And do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:8 – But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.

‌Key Reminder

W‌hile Scripture talks about salvation in all three tenses: past, present, and future … we must not forget that ALL salvation is IN Christ and because of His work upon the cross. So regardless of when we talk about the work of salvation (in the past, currently in the present, or the completion of salvation in the future), our salvation is found in Christ alone.‌

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Question: How does understanding the “now and not yet” help you live in these days?

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About NRJohnson

NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) is the host of the Deeper Christian Podcast and has an overwhelming passion for Jesus, the Gospel, and Studying God’s Word. He is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps other believers understand and apply the Bible as they grow and mature in their faith—desiring that they gain greater intimacy with Christ, experience the victorious Christian life, and transform the world through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Read more about him here.

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