To God’s elect […] who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood…. [Your] inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time…. [And now] you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:1-2, 4b-5, 9).
When we think about our salvation, I daresay that we typically think of it in terms of our past. We say: “I have been saved” or “I was saved when I was 18.” But did you know that the Bible speaks about salvation as past, present, and future? There is a sense in which we have been saved, are currently being saved, and have yet to be saved. These categories are all over Paul’s writing, and they appear here in 1 Peter 1 as well.
The salvation we received in the past is described by the theological term justification. This means that we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. We are set right with God, and our relationship to him as our Lord and Saviour can begin. We “have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (vv. 1-2).
But we are also currently in the process of more fully realizing what a relationship with the Lord means and how we can live out this Christian life better through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the ongoing process of being saved from the clutches of sin, and is called sanctification. It is a recognition that at this very moment we are “receiving the end result of our faith, the salvation of our souls” (v. 10).
But neither we nor this world are perfect, and so we wait until that day when the Lord will bring this age to an end and give us new resurrection bodies and redeem our sinful nature, along with the whole world. This is called glorification, “the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (v. 9).
I say these things because it is so vital to realize that the work of God and of his salvation is never exclusively in the past tense. We are not saved in the past and put in a holding pattern until our lives here should end. Rather, the process that he begun when he snatched us from the mouth of Hell he will continue on into eternity, for “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6).