Is the salvation in Christ instantaneous or is it an ongoing process?
Are you saved at the very moment, when you accept Jesus with your mouth, and believe in Him? Many argue it is so, they believe in “once saved – always saved”. “Salvation is a gift, it can’t be earned” or worked for”.
Those who argue that you are saved forever, from the very moment when you open yourself up to Him and receive Him, and that this blessing and salvation can never be cancelled, that it’s an instant and eternal validation that God will not withdraw, they don’t believe in an ongoing saving rescue process (they can’t understand it); they refer most of the time to these Bible verses:
John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Romans 10:9, 13 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. … For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
David Pawson wrote these lines in his book “Understanding the water baptism”:
“Too many want to be happy in the next life (and in this life; my note) rather than holy in this one. They want to be safe rather than saved.
They are usually looking for an instant, even instantaneous, salvation that can be guaranteed as soon and as quickly as possible.
However, salvation is a process. It takes time, a lifetime.
It begins with Justification (freedom from the penalty of sin), continues with Sanctification (freedom from the power of sin) and is completed in Glorification (freedom from the presence of sin).
In the New Testament the verb “to save” is used in past, present and future tenses – we have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved.
Jesus came the first time to begin the process by removing the barrier of sin between us and God and reconciling us to him. He will “appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him ” (Hebrews 9:28).
Salvation is a journey, a “pilgrim’s progress.” The first name for Christianity was “the Way” (Acts 18:25-26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:22); that was also one of the titles Jesus gave himself (John 14:6). We can be sure we are “on the way”, though we will not be safe until we arrive at our destination. Those who “stand firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13), who stay in Christ the “true vine” (John 15:5-6), who continue in God’s kindness (Romans 11:22), who finish the race (2 Timothy 4:7), running with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1), making their calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10), keeping themselves in God’s love (Jude 21) and overcoming all temptations to give up (Revelation 3:5).
To get there will require all the help we can get from the Lord. To question whether anything he tells us to do is really necessary betrays a self-confidence that is taking a serious risk and an impudence which challenges divine wisdom.
“Must I be baptized to be saved?” The apostles would have been astonished by the question, which apparently never occurred to them or anyone else – or the answer would be in the Bible. Instead, we find everywhere the assumption that baptism is an essential step “on the way”. To them an unbaptized disciple would have been a contradiction in terms.”
– From the book “Understanding water baptism”