Did you know that salvation is a process? Salvation is the process of being saved. Not the process of being saved from earthly pain, poverty or health problems. Not even saved from Hell. Salvation is the process of being saved from our sins. Hell is simply the consequence of our sins. Hell is the absence of fellowship with God. This is the consequence of sin.
It is God, (not us), who is the One that works this process in us and does all of the saving. Yet at the same time, we have the command to work at our salvation diligently as if we are running a race for our lives. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Phi 2:12-13)
In the past tense, we have been forgiven for our sins and given the Holy Spirit. We have been saved.
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" (Tit 3:5)
In the present tense our Lord is sanctifying us, working His Holy Spirit in us so that we overcome our sins. We are being saved.
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, cultivate your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Phi 2:12)
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Eph 2:8)
In the future tense, we will be in fully glorified bodies, incapable of sin. We will be saved.
"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Mat 10:22)
"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law." (1Co 15:54-56)
One of Satan’s methods that he uses is to deceive Christians into living a mediocre, defeated life is to get them thinking about the ‘past tense’ salvation and ‘future tense’ salvation only. It goes like this: “I accepted Jesus, so I’ve been forgiven for my sins and I’m going to Heaven.” There is some truth there, but there is much more missing. A half truth told as the whole truth is no truth! That statement mentions past salvation, but it does not even mention our present salvation. A salvation which does not produce continual overcoming of our sins and does not produce sanctification is an incomplete salvation!
We must also continually:
You’ve got to hate your sin. Hate it, and forsake it. You must have absolutely zero intention of ever returning to it. That’s repentance.
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;" (Act 3:19)
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained..." (Act 17:30-31)
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Rev 3:19-20)
"And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (Mat 5:30)
"Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." (Joh 5:14)
We have been saved, and now our calling is to overcome sin. Overcoming gossip, drunkenness, the love of money, and lust is more important than evangelism and serving the Lord! How can we help make others clean if we are dirty ourselves!? We must remove the plank from our own eye before we can remove a speck from another person's eye. We must show continual gratitude to God for our past salvation (the forgiveness of sins), we look forward to our future salvation (our unhindered fellowship with the Lord and our glorified bodies, incapable of sin), and we labor diligently for our present salvation (overcoming sin). Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
Now when a person asks you, “When were you saved?” You can tell them, “every day.”