The word of the day is “shall.” “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” Today we apply that saying to our salvation. Some would declare that they were saved at some moment in the past. And now they can rest in the assurance of their deliverance. But that is like the biker who has climbed to the top of a hill. Now, he tells himself, he can coast down the slope without worry or effort. But the biker hasn’t reached his destination. Soon another hill appears, and he is unprepared to face its challenge.
In today’s reading of Romans 5:1-10, Paul speaks of salvation as a future happening. He writes, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (OSB vs. 10). Today we emphasize that salvation is a process that will be completed in the future. The trials that we are enduring are bringing us closer to salvation’s rescue from sin and death and its healing of the soul.
We Will Be Saved
For those who run the race of faith, the finish line has not yet come into view. Paul emphasizes that we “shall be saved.” In the past is our reconciliation with God by Christ’s death (OSB vs. 10). The love of God shown by the Cross has overcome our animosity against God and turned us from enemies of our Creator into friends. But now, there is more ahead of us. We must live our New Life as those who are justified and reconciled.
“We shall be saved by His life!” This thought involves a change of metaphors. The Greek word for “saved” takes us down two metaphorical tracks. The first word picture is the deliverance or rescue from some danger (Strong’s #4982, 245). The second is the deliverance or healing from some disease (Strong’s #4982, 245).
We Were Rescued, Justified, and Reconciled
With this in mind, we can say that we were rescued from the dangers of sin, death, and the devil. And we were justified and reconciled with God, and therefore were delivered from divine condemnation and alienation from our Creator.
By our baptism, we have died with Christ to the curses of death and corruption. But by the “washing of regeneration” (OSB Titus 3:5), we have now risen with Christ to “newness of life” (OSB Romans 6:4). Paul puts it, “As Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life” (OSB Romans 6:4).
With that, our mental image must change to describe what happens in the New Life after our dying with Christ. It is then that we will be saved by Christ’s life. What life? The life of Christ’s resurrection. The Lord has risen to share His eternal life with us. And so, He calls us to “abide in Him” as He abides in us (John 15:4). As we remain in Him, we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:19).
The Salvation of the Healing of the Soul
What kind of salvation? The healing of our souls. This spiritual therapy is often described as sanctification, the process by which the Holy Spirit gradually but surely cleanses us and makes us holy. Speaking of such sanctification, Paul writes, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life” (Romans 6:22).
In this process of healing by making holy, the image of God in which we were made is restored in us. That is, we become— we develop into–“partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). We grow to be deified, or “like God” by grace.
We were saved. We are being saved. We “will be saved. These affirmations can only mean that salvation is not a moment in time but a process that is going on throughout our lives.
How do we know this? How do we know it isn’t over yet? Well, the tribulations of the moment are proof enough that we haven’t reached our final deliverance. More than that, these sufferings demonstrate that the Lord isn’t through with us yet. But our sufferings are carrying us forward. By the virtues of perseverance, character, and hope, the Lord’s work in us is being completed, and His promise that “We shall be saved” is coming closer to being fulfilled.