Salvation is Progressive Sanctification

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 ESV

“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”

The primary gospel permeating the church today, at least here in America, is what is often referred to as the “cheap grace gospel.” It doesn’t mean that God’s grace is cheap, but that men have cheapened it by altering, diluting, and manipulating it to make it say what itching ears want to hear. So this cheapened grace message now appeals to the flesh of man because it doesn’t put the flesh to death but it now coddles and pacifies it.

It began as what is often referred to as “Once Saved Always Saved,” but gradually it has evolved to where it is being taught now that we don’t have to repent of our sins, and we don’t have to obey the Lord, and that we don’t have to submit to the Lordship of Christ, for they call that “works-based salvation.” So, they have turned light for darkness and darkness for light, for they are now giving sin full reign in people’s hearts and lives.

So, the message that they are giving to people is “peace and security,” but it is a false peace and a false security. For they are telling people that they can say some words after someone else in a prayer and now they are congratulated that they are part of God’s family and that heaven is guaranteed them when they die, and that it can’t be taken away from them regardless of how they live their lives from that moment forward.

Even if they use the word “repent,” they don’t usually use the word in the way the Bible mostly uses that word. Yes, the word means to have a change of mind, but when the Scriptures use it they primarily use it in the context of forsaking our lives of sin and our idols and us turning from them to God to now follow Jesus Christ in obedience to him and to his commands; to now go where he sends us and to do and to say the things he says to do and to say.

One of the big reasons that people are buying into this “cheap grace gospel” message is that it doesn’t demand death to sin in us nor obedience to the Lord, and so its adherents feel as though they can now continue living in sin guilt free with no fear of punishment, and that heaven awaits them in the end. It is also because they are ignorant of the Scriptures because they are relying on other humans to tell them what is true, which is a bad idea.

But what is happening, which has been going on all my life, is that Scriptures are being taught out of context and grouped together in neat little gospel tracts, and so the people are not being taught the true gospel. They are being taught that once they pray that prayer that they are now saved, done deal, and nothing can take that away. And even if holiness is being taught, which it mostly isn’t, it is not being taught in a way that impacts our salvation and our eternal life with God, so it is not demanded of anyone.

But the Scriptures, if taught in context, teach salvation, not as a one-time decision we make in our lives which guarantees us eternal life with God in the end, but it teaches salvation as progressive sanctification. It teaches our salvation parallel to the Jewish marriage of the Old Testament, which it is.

For when we believe in Jesus we enter into a marriage relationship with him which is really an engagement period. Our groom is preparing a home for us, and one day he will return to take us to be with him forever, and that is when our salvation will be complete, but only IF we turn from our sins and obey him and we continue in him steadfast in such faith as this until the very end. Thus, God’s promises to us are conditional on us doing the things he says we must do in order to have salvation from sin and life eternal.

Thus, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matt 7:21-23).

So, if you want to know the truth of the gospel, and of what I just stated here, then please read these Scriptures in their context and you will learn the truth of our salvation:

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 8:31-32,51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:1-11; Acts 26:18; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 11:17-24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 1 Co 10:1-22; 1 Co 15:2,58; 2 Co 5:10,15; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6,16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-23; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 2 Tim 2:10-21; Tit 2:11-14; Tit 3:8; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 5:9; Heb 9:28; Heb 10:26-27; Heb 12:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; Jas 2:17; 1 Pet 1:1-5, 17-21; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Pet 1:1-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; 1 Jn 5:2-3; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]

For, “While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” So, please take this to heart!

1 Thessalonians 5:4-8 ESV

“But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

But if we are truly children of God, by genuine God-given faith in Jesus Christ, via dying with Christ to sin so that we can now live to him and to his righteousness, which is evidenced by our walks of faith which are according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, in obedience to our Lord’s commands, then the day of the Lord should not overtake us, for we should be watching and waiting longingly for his soon return (Rom 6:1-23).

Yet, there is a warning here even to us with genuine faith in Jesus that we must not walk in the darkness for we won’t have eternal life with God. We are being strongly urged here that we must not be like those who are still in the darkness who are spiritually asleep. We are to be spiritually alert by walking in the light we have been given in obedience to our Lord so that the darkness does not overtake us (see Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 1 Jn 3:4-10).

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 ESV

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Just because we, as believers in Jesus, are not destined for wrath, it does not mean we will escape God’s wrath by a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ. We must turn from our sins and obey our Lord, for if we don’t, and if we continue to walk in deliberate and habitual sin, in disobedience to our Lord, we will not inherit eternal life with God. And we must continue in this walk of faith until the very end for us to have eternal life with God (1 Co 6:9-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Jn 15:1-12).

So, if we want to be forgiven our sins, be delivered from our bondage to sin, and have the hope of eternal life with God, we must, by genuine faith in Jesus Christ, walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh in obedience to our Lord, in the forsaking of our sins until the very end. And these are not my words. This is what the Scriptures teach. We just have to read the Bible, especially Matthew – Revelation in context in order to get the whole big picture of our salvation and eternal life with God (Rom 8:1-17).

So, remember Jesus’ words here: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who DOES the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Listen to Our Hearts

Songwriters: Geoff Moore / Steven Chapman

How do you explain, how do you describe
A love that goes from east to west
And runs as deep as it is wide?
You know all our hopes,
Lord, you know all our fears.
And words cannot express the love we feel,
But we long for You to hear.

So listen to our hearts.
Hear our spirit sing
A song of praise that flows
From those you have redeemed.
We will use the words we know
To tell you what an awesome God You are.
But words are not enough
To tell you of our love,
So listen to our hearts.

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5 thoughts on “Salvation is Progressive Sanctification

  1. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, and although we can still choose to sin, the Holy Spirit’s conviction makes it impossible to enjoy sin the way we did before.
    If someone is buying into the cheap grace gospel and has no problem with it, I seriously doubt (s)he is truly saved. But then those self-deluded people probably don’t care and won’t heed your message.
    On the other hand, the believer who is struggling with a “besetting sin” and is truly miserable and desperate for change, that child of God needs reassurance that the Lord is patient and will continually forgive and help that person not to give up. We need to be very careful not to heap more condemnation onto the weak and wounded lambs who have condemned themselves already. We need to pray daily for discernment in whether to treat an individual with mercy or with “tough love.” (Some will need both.) And when that person WANTS to change, the Church should be there to help, especially remembering that we ourselves struggled and needed God’s mercy.


    • Annie, the problem here is that many people are convinced that they are saved and that they have the Holy Spirit living within them merely because they made some profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and so they are also convinced that heaven is their eternal destiny, and that nothing can take that away from them. Many of them are walking in besetting sins that have overtaken them and they are living in slavery to sin, and they are not being taught what Jesus taught and what his apostles taught that if we continue living in sin that we will not inherit eternal life with God. They are convinced that their sinful practices will not separate them from God and from heaven. And this is because this is what is largely being taught in the church.

      So true mercy, and true compassion does not coddle them in their sins. It does not make allowances for their sins. This is not saying that we must live perfect lives. That is not what this is teaching. It is not what the Scriptures teach. But what Jesus warned his followers of and what the apostles warned the Christians of was having this idea that because they were saved from their sins that if they continued on a course of living in sin that it would not impact their eternal security. So from the very beginning Paul made it clear that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. And if we walk (in practice) according to the flesh, in deliberate and habitual sin, and we do not repent, and we do not forsake our sins to follow Jesus in obedience, that our future home is not heaven but it is hell. And so we need to tell people this. For he said that we are slaves of the one we obey, and if that be sin, it will end in death, but if it be obedience, it will lead to righteousness and to sanctification which will result in eternal life with God (Rom 6&8).

      So, the purpose of this is number one to teach the truth of what the Scriptures teach for many are being deceived by the lies and they are still on their way to hell on the promise of heaven when they die. And it is to make Christians aware that many of them have been duped by master liars and manipulators and that their salvation is not secure if they are continuing in deliberate and habitual sin, which is where Jesus draws the line. We are either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. We can’t be slaves of righteousness if we are still living in slavery to sin. And with regard to those who are still living in sin, they need to be taught the truth that Jesus already made their way of escape. They just have to take it. And if they don’t take it, then they are making a conscious choice of their own free will to reject God’s true plan of salvation. For he died to deliver us from our slavery to sin so we might be slaves of him and of his righteousness.

      So, the kindest and the most loving thing anyone can do with someone who is still habitually yielding to particular sinful practices is to tell them the truth that will set them free. Continuing in sin is a choice, and habitual sin is deliberate. They just have to choose to say “No!” to the sin and “Yes!” to God and trust God with the strength to resist the devil and to flee temptation and to walk in holiness and righteousness in the power and strength of the Spirit of God. If they really want to change, change is possible. But they have to let go of control and let the Holy Spirit take control. They have to put on that spiritual armor and fight off those temptations to sin and throw off every weight that hinders and cut out everything that is leading them into sin. They have to mean business with God and victory will be theirs. And I am speaking from experience, not from theory. We can’t be lukewarm about this. We can’t be double-minded or we won’t be victorious. We have to set our faces like flint in full determination to not let sin be our master, and there are many Scripture passages to help us with that, one of which is Hebrews 12.

      So, please read over the Scriptures that I noted in this writing and please share them with your friend who is still struggling with besetting sins, and please let her or him know that Jesus made the way out and he/she just has to take it. For Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died to deliver us from our addiction to sin so that we would no longer live in sin but so we would now be slaves to God and to his righteousness. But we must make the choice to serve God or the flesh. Not one of us needs to struggle with besetting sins. We are supposed to help those with besetting sins to do a reset, to forsake their sins and to follow Jesus in obedience. This is what it means to restore them.


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