We often speak of salvation as if it is only an event in the past. A robust, Biblical look at salvation reveals something much more wonderful, though. Tom Oden points this out in his massive systematic theology Classic Christianity:
“There are three tenses in the vocabulary of salvation: We have been saved from the penalty of sin for our justification. We are being saved from the power of sin for our sanctification. We will be saved from the remnants of sin for God’s glorification. Salvation includes the whole range of divine activity on behalf of humanity in past, present, and future history.” (Oden, 566.)
The Bible speaks of these tenses in many places, of course, but as Oden points out sometimes it speaks of all three at once. Note, for instance, all three tenses in Titus 2:11-13 (NRSV):
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Salvation is not only something that we once received at the altar years ago, or a hope we can only look forward to. Salvation is past, it is present, and it is yet to come. Thanks be to God.