Pearl of Great Value - Matt. 13:45-46

Bible Studies


Salvation in Three Tenses, by Richard Kirby

In every language the verb is the word used to express action. For example, walk, speak, exist, travel, grow. Verb tenses are the forms of the verbs that tell when the action takes place. 1) The past and perfect tenses tell us that the action took place in the past, that it has already happened: you walked, he has lived, they existed, God saved you, you have been saved. 2) The present tense tells us that the action takes place now, in the present time; it is presently going on: I live in Georgia, he hits the ball, you are being saved, it is raining, we love to dance. 3) The future tense tells us that the action is yet to happen; it is future: I will meet you at Walmart, when Jesus returns, every eye shall see Him, believe in Christ, and you shall be saved. “he who endures to the end shall be saved.”


As these examples show, salvation is said to take place in all three tenses: We have been saved; we are being saved; and we shall be saved in the future.

Salvation in The Past and Perfect TensesFirst we see that the Christian has already been saved; he has been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Christ; he or she has passed from death to life.


Eph. 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”


The verb here is in the perfect tense; this means that it expresses the present results of a past action. We have been saved; therefore we are saved now. Since we have been saved and are now saved, we must be busy doing the good works for which God saved us.


Tit. 3:5-7:  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us [past tense], through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”


Paul refers back to the time we were born again, regenerated, “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” We were rescued from Satan’s grasp when we received Christ as Savior and were born again of the Holy Spirit. The very life of God was birthed into us, into our spirits. We became children of God and heirs, with the “the hope of eternal life.” When Paul speaks of the hope of eternal life, he is looking to a future salvation in which the present salvation will be completed. Hope is about the future.


In a sense we already have eternal life. John 6:54:  “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life [present tense], and I will raise him up at the last day.” We participate through faith in the body and blood of Jesus—we “eat His flesh and drink His blood,” so to speak. Therefore we have eternal life. We have passed from death to life:


John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.


Because we now have the Holy Spirit living in us, we can know that we have eternal life. The Holy Spirit “bears witness with our spirits that  we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).


1John 5:11-13: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”


And yet, even though we have the divine life in us, we must still live in the hope of eternal life, for in the end eternal life is what we receive as a reward for our faithfulness. The actual eternal life in its fullness is yet future.

As the Apostle Peter said, in 1Pet. 1:9:   “… you are receiving the goal of your faith [faithfulness?], the salvation of your souls.


When Jesus comes to earth and judges the nations, He will divide the sheep from the goats. The goats “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous [the sheep will go] to eternal life” (Matt. 25:46).


Jesus said in Mark 10:29-30, “I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields — and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”


Clearly then, though we have eternal life because God’s life is in us, we must hope and strive for the eternal life that is the reward of our faithfulness.


Thus Paul tells Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life.”


I Tim. 6:12: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”


Timothy was called to eternal life; as a born-again believer he had eternal life; yet he still had to take hold of eternal life.


Paul tells Timothy to, “Command [rich Christians] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”


Does this mean that rich believers, though born again, can fail to take hold of eternal life? The language Paul uses seems to suggest that they can: they are to do the things that enable them to take hold of eternal life.


Salvation in the Present Tense: We Christians are saved now and we will be saved in the future, and we are also in the process of being saved. In the Greek language the present tense is often progressive; that is, it expresses an action that is going on at present. Sometimes this is not expressed in the translation, but it is implied all the same. For example:


“Moreover, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received [past tense] and in which you stand [have stood], by which also you are saved [are being saved],if you hold fast [are holding fast] that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.” (I Cor. 15:1-2).


This pretty clear, isn’t it. You have received the Gospel and so have been saved. You are still in the process of being saved if you are holding fast to the word of the Gospel. If you are not presently being saved, then your faith will turn out to have been wasted, in vain. It's wrong to ignore the conditional nature of this scripture. It clearly shows that our ultimate salvation depends on our continuing to be saved. And our continuing to be saved depends on our continuing to hold fast the word of the Gospel.


2 Cor. 2:14-16: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.15  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life...”


Those who have been saved, and therefore are being saved, receive the apostles’ message as an aroma of life which leads to life—a life still in the future.


Salvation in The Future Tense:  We have already seen that salvation in the past tense and salvation in the present tense are all in vain unless they lead to salvation in the future tense. Let us look at a few scriptures that confirm our findings.


Romans 5:10: “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son [that is, we were saved], much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.



Mark 13:13:"And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”


Rev.  2:11: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Rev. 3:5: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angel.”


And what does it mean to overcome? It means to trust and obey unto the end.


Rev. 2:26: “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.”


Rev. 2:10: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

These scriptures show the conditional nature of our future salvation; they imply that if we do not overcome, do not keep His works until the end, we will not receive the crown of life, will have our names blotted out of the Book of Life, will not be given power over the nations.


Let us look at one more Scripture which throws light on all three tenses of salvation—I Peter 1:3-9:


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,  7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,  9 receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.


Nothing is clearer in the pages of the Bible than the fact that our present salvation must be kept by us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, unto the coming of Christ. No message is clearer than that, though we have been saved by faith without works, we will not be saved finally without obedience, unless we keep the faith which works through love unto the end. James says that faith without works is dead and can save no one (James 2:14-24). It is a futile, forlorn hope which expects to be saved by a dead faith.


There is a very popular teaching abroad that once a person is saved there is nothing he or she can do, or fail to do, that would cause the person to come short of salvation. This is a very dangerous error. On nearly every page of the New Testament the inspired writers exhort us to continue to persevere in faith and obedience. They warn us that our faith may be in vain (I Cor. 15:2); and that we may fail or come short of the grace of God (Heb. 12:15); that we may fall from grace (Gal. 5:4); that Christ may become of no effect for us; we may make a shipwreck of our faith (I Tim. 1:19); have our name blotted out of the book of life (Rev. 3:5); and many, many other such scriptures.


Thank God we are now saved, that we are being saved, kept by the power of God, and I pray that we all may be found faithful unto death and receive the crown of eternal life. Amen