Salvation & Sanctification

Deciding Who is Going to Heaven

Revelations 12:10   Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

Are You Saved?

This question can be disconcerting for one such as I who grew up in a church (Presbyterian) which rarely considered the question. It always seemed to come as a challenge to my personal faith, a challenge, not from God, but from some zealous "Christian" ready to condemn me to hell if I waffled in the least. Presbyterians practice infant baptism and assume themselves to be saved simply by being practicing members of the church. In my experience, their fruits, either those of faith, hope, charity... or those of malice, envy, strife..., seem to play out in the same rough proportions as those of other churches. If fruit is the signal of salvation (Matthew 7:16-20), then the saved and the unsaved seem to be equally spread throughout the major denominations, with the exception that the dominant character of the sin may vary with each denomination (self-righteousness here, judgmentalism there, and compromise there).

The question of salvation is important because it is a question of what is your relationship to God and to Jesus Christ. Being a really good person and attending church on a regular basis does not make us saved. Believing the message of the Bible does not make us saved. As James notes: "the devils also believe, and tremble."(James 2:19) This passage is the basis for one of Jonathan Edwards powerful sermons "True Grace Distinguished From The Experience Of Devils" (Edwards, 1834, sermon V). Edwards strongly cautions that belief alone, or even the fear of God does not distinguish someone from a devil and therefore could not possibly assure one of salvation.

All those who assume themselves to be saved must honestly confront the question: "Have I ever really pushed into the presence of the Lord?" and "Do I want God to change me?"

Psalms 34:18   The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.


Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, 1935. reading for January 10) tells us that the sign of salvation is that we have received something from Jesus Christ. Before that, our eyes may be open, but we are not receiving. We may be attending church regularly. We could be an example of righteousness to our entire community. But these are things that we can do on our own with or without the input of God.

Salvation begins when we receive remission of sins. "Salvation," states Chambers, "means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, viz., remission of sins." This is God's grace alone. Nothing we do can force God's hand in this matter. God is a faithful God, however. When we are ready to give up our attachment to sin, God is ready to bless us with forgiveness and to remove that sin from us.

Despite growing up in the church, exhaustive seeking, and two years of seminary I was still finding the question, "Are you saved?" difficult. My answer was equivocal: "I think so, but it's not up to me." The pat answer to that tends to be, "If you're saved, you know it." But I didn't. I have felt the presence of God since I was a youth, despite arguing against His existence at times. For over twenty years, my prayer life has been transforming me bit by bit. I have sacrificed myself repeatedly for the Kingdom. Still I don't always feel accepted by God. I still feel driven, called by God, and I don't always know what for. As for my sins, some of them are gone and some keep coming back.

In many ways, I feel closer to Sanctification than Salvation. It has always been much easier for me to say, "Take me Lord," than it has been to feel the comforting hand of Grace. Can I receive grace yet still not feel it?

Salvation seems to be a simple proposition, seek forgiveness and God is there. But this isn't looking for car keys, or even asking dad for car keys. This seeking is an act of contrition performed at the level of the heart. We have to say I'm sorry with our heart, not with our mind, and we have to mean it. God sees what we may never see. Every hidden "but Lord" is written on our heart.

Chambers notes "we must know Him as more than a personal savior" (My Utmost Devotional Bible, reading 20). There are several steps of salvation in scripture. The word salvation in scripture indicates deliverance or protection (Exodus 14:13). Many were healed (“saved”) by Jesus (Luke 7:50), both physically and spiritually, but they did not follow Jesus. As one pastor notes anyone who has not yet received the hell he or she deserves has been “saved” by the patience and mercy of God so they might yet turn to the Lord. When we truly turn our hearts to Jesus, He pulls us out of the life we had and puts us on a new path. This is what Christian understand as salvation, that is the deliverance from the former life. Being baptised in the Spirit, we receive the “Helmet of Salvation” which is the protective covering of the Holy Spirit. Scripture is clear that we can still walk away from God at this stage. I.e. “eternal salvation” is a promise to those who endure. This implies a stricter definition of “salvation”, which has to with placing oneself under the will of God through repentance from the sins of the flesh and from dead works: obedience. This is why the first church was called “the way”.

Repentance: sincere apologies are cleansing and liberating, apologizing to God can be life changing. Asking for forgiveness can remove huge barriers. Asking God for forgiveness opens us to a new level of understanding.

Revelations 19:1   After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God”

Whose Business is Salvation?

The simple answer is "God's". You, the individual desiring salvation, are the one who must seek it. But only God gives salvation. But the business of salvation is immediately clouded when a further consideration is added: God asks the Saved to carry the message and the gift to those not yet saved.

My own up bringing as a Presbyterian did not lead me to question salvation. I suppose the preoccupation with Predestination leads many Presbyterians to assume that salvation is up to God so you either have it or you don't. In my experience, most Presbyterians are convinced that they have salvation and don't question it further.

Fundamentalist and evangelical Christians, on the other hand, are often mesmerized by the notion of salvation. I have met many whose first words are "Are you saved?" Many Christians fail to recognize that the question, "Are You Saved?", easily implies the statement, "I am Saved.", and a further implication, "I am better than those not saved." Like the giver who gives alms with one hand and blows a trumpet in the other hand, pride on the part of the evangelist can repulse the intended receiver. Instead of being drawn into the Kingdom, many are driven away by proud, boastful or judgmental Christians.

For me, confrontation with over zealous Christians did not encouragement me to deepen my walk with God, but rather encouraged me to argue, disparage and even insult those who might otherwise have deepened my faith and helped me separate from error. Much of this could have been avoided if these disciples had remembered one simple rule: the business of granting salvation is not given to anyone outside of God. Christians who act the part of Pharisees, boasting of their salvation, or act the part of zealots attempting to bludgeon non-believers into the Kingdom, do serious damage to the cause of Jesus Christ.

A local left-wing radio station used to air an Atheist Hour. It struck me that these people not only did not believe in God, they hated the idea of God. They hated the notion of God because they hated religion. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that they disliked or were uncomfortable with religion, they hated it. It could be that the circumstances of their life caused them to vehemently and angrily oppose any pressure on their lives. They may have given themselves over to perversions or rebellion. But it seems most likely that religious but un-Godly people have poisoned their spirit.

Matthew 10:32   "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven."


The importance of baptism to salvation is a subject of hot debate and fodder for divisive doctrinal issues. Watchman Nee, (Baptism, New Believer Series), relying on Mark, says that baptism is essential to salvation. He equates baptism to separation from the world. He speaks of its role as public confession of faith, which implies adult baptism, although he does not say this. I chose to be re-baptized in a renewal of commitment for just such a reason.

While there are those who are adamant that certain protocol must be followed or God is not in it, I am convinced that God is strict, but not dogmatic. God is concerned about one thing, where is your heart. Most dogmatic Christians are wrapped up in doctrine and spew forth with pride and judgementalism concerning things which belong to God. Publicly professing your faith in Christ Jesus is acceptable to God. More formal arrangements (i.e. full immersion in water and the precise pronouncement 'In the Name of Jesus Christ') is the ideal and should be sought if circumstances permit. The important thing is a clear public statement of stepping from the world to submission to Jesus Christ.

The real question is that of the baptism of the spirit. Has the Holy Spirit gotten a hold of your heart? If so, then the Holy Spirit can and will begin to sanctify you, drawing you closer to the high calling of God, His Holy presence. This comes about when we put ourselves under the protection and healing of Christ's redeeming blood, i.e. we are “saved”. At this moment the Holy Spirit is free to come and minister to us, cleansing us and transforming us according to God's will. This prepares us for eternal salvation. That is, salvation in which Satan is no longer able to harm us in the least. This salvation is for those who endure (Matthew 10:22 & 24:13; Mark 13:13).

2 Peter 2:7 &9   and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,


Salvation, according to Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, 1935. reading for January 10), is the first mighty work of grace. The second, is Sanctification. "In sanctification," Chambers concludes, "the regenerated soul deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God's interest in other men."

Sanctification is a long and slow process. Piece by piece the "old man" is dismantled and a "new man" is created in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Adam chose to define his own good and evil, Jesus chose to stay under the authority of God unto death. By putting ourselves under Jesus, we are covered under the authority of God, The Tree of Life. There are two aspects to this process: coming under the authority of those anointed by God to teach, and humbling ourselves to the Holy Spirit.

Standing under authority requires that we must first seek out the Anointing. Find those people on whom the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, rests. This is typically a pastor or missionary. Ask them to guide us, to teach us and be willing to be chastised by them when stepping out off the path. A teacher who is open to the Lord is able to give us specific guidance for us and us alone.

Once you find an authority, hesitate long and hard before dismissing that authority. One of the purposes of having an authority is so that God can impart strong medicine. If you leave and seek another authority whenever the strong medicine arrives, God cannot reach you.

Giving up the self is essential to allowing God into your life. Andrew Murray has a fine book on the subject: (Humility. Andrew Murray, 1982). In it, Murray carefully shows how Jesus constantly deferred to the Father. Because of His humility, Jesus was able to not decide the best coarse for His life and to allow God to choose, thus restoring God's will over and above Adam's choice. In learning humbling ourselves as a matter of habit, we open the doors to God. This means learning to be OK with bad drivers on the road and aggressive people at the supermarket. We do not know through whom God will speak to us next.

When there is less of me and when I am tuned to voice of God through the authorities that I seek in my life, God can change me at will.

Isaiah 57:15   For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.


The final act, when we have washed our robes is that done by God: Glorification. This is the transformation of our flesh to that of a new man or woman through the blood of Christ Jesus. This is sanctification. This is the gift given to those who endure: eternal salvation.

*All Bible quotes are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

Wm W Wells – Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Copyright © 2000-2002 Wm W Wells. May be copied freely without alteration.