We have reflected on the word "salvation" here on Stoned-Campbell Disciple previously. It is such a deep and marvelous theme that I decided to return to it once again.
Salvation is one of those words that carries many meanings, even in Scripture. It means deliverance from sickness, death or enemies frequently in the Psalms. It means liberation from slavery and oppression in the Exodus. It carries notions of forgiveness in Leviticus. Salvation is broad in the Bible and we embrace all of these meanings. In all of these meanings, however, salvation always carries the idea of blessing from God.
Scripture is clear and unequivical on this salvation "idea" -- it is God alone who saves. Listen to what the Prophet of old had to say,
"But now, this is what the LORD says - he created you, O Jacob, he formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine . . . For I
am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . (Isaiah 43.1-3; cf. Ex 14.30; Psalm 136).
God saves. We get saved by God. Salvation is the work of God.
But salvation is spoken of in three tenses in Scripture: Past, Present and Future. When we look at redemptive history it might look something like this:
Words --- Past --- Present --- Future
Righteousness --- Justified (Rom 5.1) --- process/growing --- perfection
Salvation --- saved (Eph 2.8) --- being saved -- - will be saved
Sanctification --- Sanctified (1 Cor 6.11) --- seek sanct (1 Th 4.3) --- presented holy
Glorification --- glorified (1 Pt 4.14) --- being transformed (2 C 3.18) --- glorified
Renewal --- born again (Tit 3.5) --- renewal --- regeneration
The Past action of accomplishing salvation is God's work alone at the cross. Paul seems to summarize this in 1 Cor 1.30 where he declares that Christ is our righteous, our holiness, and our redemption. This is God's work alone. We might even say, biblically I believe, that salvation is by grace alone in this tense.
In the Present we are both passive and active. In the present we submit to God's working within us through his Spirit. We respond to the good news of God's work in the cross through trusting faith. In other words it might be said "we play a part" in this tense. We gain no merit. We get no credit. But we do submit to being molded and shaped through the power of God.
In the Future we again are totally in the realm of God's work alone. Our future righteousness, glorification, and salvation await the work of God. God will accomplish these things.
In the present we struggle with salvation even though we are declared by God to be saved. But our bodies share in the fallen state of the creation itself. Thus we await and grown for the redemption of our bodies to become not something we believe and hope for but something that will be realized (Romans 8).
The tenses of salvation really help explain the Christian life it seems to me. We really are "between the times." We are between Good Friday and Easter.