5 More aspects of salvation
Aside from the five objective aspects of salvation discussed in the previous post, God’s salvation also has 5 sub-jective aspects: regeneration, sanctification, trans-formation, conformity and glorification. God’s will is that each believer experience all of these aspects thus the necessity of identifying and understanding the process of each one.
Regeneration means that besides the new life that we received after being born again, we received another life, God’s life. This is what the Bible means when it speaks of being born again. Regeneration is the center of our experience of salvation. It is the starting point of our living relationship with God (1 Peter 1:23).
God’s intent is to have a group of people who receive him as their life, so that they may express him in his image and represent him with his authority (Genesis 1:26). The disobedience of Adam caused him to fall into sin and lose this birthright. The death of Christ resolved all of man’s problems before God. God has brought us back to himself completely. As long as man does not receive God as life, neither God nor man can be satisfied.
The next step of God in salvation is to enter into man in order to put his life within him. This is the most crucial step. Even if God completely forgave and reconciled him, man still would not be able to express God without receiving his life.
Being a Christian is not principally a matter of becoming perfect. Being a Christian means to be born of God, which means that, besides receiving human life we receive God’s life. Because we all have been born into sin, we are all sinners. How can a sinner stop sinning? This is not possible. How can you tell a dog to stop barking and start meowing? Our nature determines what we do. Even though God has forgiven your sins, your sinful nature will cause you to sin again. You need another life, a life without sin. The only life without sin is the life of God. Regeneration places this life of God inside of you. Adam neglected God’s life when he chose the tree of knowledge over the tree of life. Today by believing in Christ we can be born of God and receive him as life! Praise the name of the Lord!
After receiving God’s life, He gradually expels the evil nature inside of man. Inferior and sinful men like us, can now grow in God’s life to become his children. In the book of Ezekiel, the Bible tells us that we receive three marvelous things in regeneration (Ezekiel 36:26, 27).
- A new heart – a heart of flesh to substitute our old heart of stone
- A new spirit – the Spirit of life renews and brings our old dead spirit to life.
- The Spirit of God himself – the third thing that we receive is the Spirit of God himself to live within us. What a marvelous salvation we have received by believing in the Lord! Regeneration is at the center of the beginning of our salvation.
Through regeneration, we received a new life, a new heart and a new spirit. That is, our spirit that had died because of the fall of man, was made alive by the Spirit of life. This was the beginning of our experience of the full salvation of God. We must recognize what a marvelous new beginning God has given us!
However, there are other things to experience in the full salvation of God. We need to understand the meaning of sanctification. Sanctification is the dissolving of our sinful nature by the work of God’s holy nature within us. In the Bible the word sanctification means principally separation, to be separated from that which is common. Sanctification has two aspects:
Positional – this means that we must separate ourselves from a common position in the world to a position in God, as illustrated in Matthew 23:17-19. Gold exists in almost any place in the world, but once we place it into the sanctuary, it becomes sanctified; in the same way that a lamb in the field is common, but when we change its position, when we place it on the altar, we can say that it has been sanctified. In the same way, God has sanctified us by faith in Christ and we are in Christ. Positional sanctification comes by way of the single offering of Christ, by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 13:12) and by God’s call (1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 1:7).
Dispositional – positional sanctification is objective while dispositional sanctification is subjective. The sanctifying Spirit is making each part of our being holy, and this happens by the work of day-by-day transformation. This is a long process, beginning with regeneration and lasts throughout the Christian life and will be completed at the second coming of Christ, when we reach maturity of life (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
In the entire universe, only God is holy. His life and nature are holy. We cannot obtain any holiness apart from him. We are not “holy” because we practice anything that is holy, but it is because we are full of God who is holy. God is the very essence of holiness (Leviticus 20:26).
The apostle Paul reveals to us that after being reconciled, we will be saved by God’s life, that transforms our fallen nature through the filling of his holy and divine nature. Therefore, in the first place we are sanctified by the holy life of God. In the second place we are sanctified by the Word and by the Holy Spirit. When we approach the Word of God in prayer we touch the Holy Spirit, we touch God himself. This sanctifies us. If we do this every day, we will allow the most holy God to sanctify us with his holy life. In this way, we will fully express his Holiness.
Transformation is a result of sanctification and relates to man’s soul. Transformation is the change from one substance in nature to another. It is an internal change in nature that causes an external change in form. This type of change is metabolic. In such a process, an organic element full of vitamins enters into our body and produces a chemical change in our organism. This chemical reaction changes the constitution of our being. This is transformation.
Suppose that you become very pale and wanted to change your appearance by using makeup. This would be an exterior change but not an organic change of life. How could you naturally restore your rose-colored cheeks? The answer is by eating healthy food daily containing organic elements necessary for health. Since your body is a living organism when an organic substance enters your body, the chemical process of metabolism begins to transform the healthy food you eat so that your body organically restores its own health and vitality. Gradually this interior process will change the color of your face. This change is not exterior but something that comes from within. It is the result of a metabolic process.
In the process of metabolism, a new element added to the organism substitutes the old element and then eliminates it. Something new is created to substitute the old element that was taken away. Metabolism then includes three things: the supply of a new element, the substitution of the old element by a new element, the elimination and removal of the old element.
Through the process of sanctification, the new element of God’s life enters our life. This new element substitutes our old sinful, dead man. This is a continuation of the salvation of God in us. God has placed us in this process since the day that we first believed.
What is the new element that produces this interior change? The answer is Christ, in the person of the Holy Spirit. From the moment that God regenerated our spirit, his desire is that his life continue expanding from our spirit to our soul. In this way, God can transform our mind, emotion and will. God regenerates and changes our spirit, but our mind, emotion and will are not automatically transformed and may remain unchanged. We have Christ as our life in our spirit, but we do not have him in our soul. If we don’t permit him to saturate our soul, our spirit will become a prison for Him. We need the Holy Spirit to continue flowing from our spirit to our soul until each part of us is transformed into his image. Then we will think as he thinks, love as he loves and choose as he chooses. We will be like the Lord in our practical life because we have saturated our soul with his life.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
God predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ. To be conformed means to place in the form or pattern of. Christ is our pattern and we must be conformed to Him. Paul speaks of us being conformed to him in his death. The death of Christ is a pattern to which we have become conformed, just as a cake is conformed to the shape of a cake pan. This means that we live by the life of Christ, and this life is a life of crucifixion, just as Christ lived here on the Earth. By way of his life within us, our life is conformed to the pattern of the human life of Jesus.
Each kind of life possesses its own form. The life of a dog possesses the form of a dog and the life of a duck the form of a duck. The growth of a certain life produces its full form. We are children of God and we share his life. Therefore, by the growth of life in transformation, we become conformed to the image of Christ. The power of God’s life is in his interior molding us to the image of his Son. It is not by exterior imitation that we assume the form of Christ, but by the inner life, by the growth of life and transformation.
The firstborn son of God is the prototype, our mold and our pattern. In order for us to reproduce in accordance with such a pattern, exterior pressure is necessary. Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through suffering and tests as if through fire, so that we take on more and more of the form of Christ. Therefore, we need the inner work of the Spirit and external pressure and temperature.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The more we are transformed, the more we are conformed, and this happens from one level of glory to another level of glory because God’s objective is to glorify us (Romans 8:30). When this whole process is ended, our body of humiliation will be conformed to the glorious body of Christ (Philippians 3:21).
Glorification is the last stage of our complete salvation. To be glorified is to enter into the glory of God in order to experience and enjoy unlimited and infinite eternal life of God in Christ.
However, may the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Peter 5:10)
Here we see that the purpose of the calling of God in Christ and the purpose of giving us all grace is that we can enjoy his eternal glory. In eternity past, he predestined us according to his foreknowledge and in time called us and justified us so that we could be glorified. This will happen at the second coming of Christ when we will be manifested with him in glory and we will enjoy the glory of the children of God (Romans 8:21). Our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed in us, which is our own glory of God. Everything that happens to us is correctly arranged by God (Romans 8:28-30), to the end of bringing his many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
Paul says that Christ is in us the hope of glory. When we hear the gospel and believe it, Christ came inside us as a seed of life. This seed is our hope of future glory. The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is an illustration of this. The caterpillar does not instantaneously transform itself into a butterfly, but the beauty of the butterfly is contained in the life of the caterpillar. Obeying the law of this life, the caterpillar will gradually be transformed until reaching its final state, which is its glorification. By the same principle, Christ is with us as our hope of glory. He takes advantage of each opportunity to operate within us. One day we will be full of the divine glory and He will take us into eternal glory.
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
When Christ manifests Himself, He will manifest us with him in his glory. On one hand, at the Lord’s return, God will lead us to his glory and on the other hand, Christ will manifest Himself through us, He Himself being the glory in which we will enter. Christ will be glorified and admired in his saints. In the future, our bodies will be completely filled with the glory of Christ and we, together with all creation, will be free of the captivity that now subjects us, so that we may enter into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God. How wonderful is the fact that we, through the salvation of God, become his children, full of his glory and life in order to express him for eternity!
In eternity past, God established a purpose in accordance with the good pleasure of his will. This purpose is to have a group of people who possess his life, that express him and that exercise his authority over Satan.
God created man to receive him as life. Satan deceived the man, leading him to disobey God, transforming him into a sinner under God’s condemnation. When this happened, apparently the purpose of God was frustrated. However, He became a perfect man, Jesus Christ, went to the cross as the Lamb of God, as the serpent of bronze and as the grain of wheat that needed to die to bring forth many grains with his life. With his death, all of the objective problems between man and God were resolved. In his resurrection, the Lord Jesus sent us his Holy Spirit that gives life to regenerate us in our spirit which is the first stage of our salvation. During our Christian life, He saves our soul through his life, sanctifies us and transforms us which is the second stage of the complete salvation of God. Finally, at his return, our bodies will be glorified and will be conformed to his glorious body (Romans 8:29). This is glorification, the last stage of God’s salvation.
In eternity future, all of the chosen and redeemed children of God throughout all of the ages will become the New Jerusalem. There, God will dwell with man and man with God forever. This is God’s final objective, the fulfillment of his purpose, and He will finish all of his work, He will be satisfied and will rest for all eternity (Genesis 2:2, 3)!