3 Sides of Salvation

How well do you remember your geometry? Can you recall the attributes of an equilateral triangle? I’m okay with this math question. (Three equal sides and angles.) But start throwing types and terms like isosceles and scalene into the mix—and it’s time for Google.

When a person places their faith in Christ alone, they are saved. But saved from what? Much like a triangle, there are three sides to this saving that has been promised by God. Paul Washer shares each side, or aspect, in the third chapter of his excellent book The Gospel’s Power and Message


In the previous two chapters, the author unpacked 1 Corinthians 15:1 (you can read about them here and here, respectively.) Now he is looking at the phrase “you are saved” found in verse two:1Washer1

In our text, the phrase you are saved is translated from a present tense verb which describes both “a present process and a future reality.” It may be translated: “by which you are being saved.” It is important not to forget that the Scriptures describe salvation in three tenses—past, present, and future.

1. Past — God saved the believer from the punishment of sin.

How? Justification… we have been declared righteous by God, based upon Christ’s righteousness. Romans 4:22, “credited to him as righteousness”; and 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2. Present — God saves the believer from the power of sin.

How? Sanctification… meaning that we are progressively growing in holiness. Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

3. Future — God will save the believer from the presence of sin.

How? Glorification… one day, His glory will be realized in us. Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

To ignore any one of these tenses or aspects of salvation will cause us to have a skewed or unhealthy view of salvation as a whole.

What do those who deny the truth of God’s Word promise? False fallacies and damning doctrine. The Mormons, as an example, declare that man can become a god; and that this celestial glory is obtained through both faith and good works (temple marriage, priesthood participation, genealogy work, serving a mission, attending LDS meetings, etc.)

What more could we desire, or what more do we need? Is not the gift of salvation through the blood of God’s own Son enough to fill our hearts to overflowing for an eternity of eternities? Is it not enough to motivate us to live for Him who died? What need do we have of other promises? Away with those who would seek to coax us to devotion by promising things other than Jesus Christ.

Are you trusting in God’s promises or man’s? We should marvel over the three sides of our salvation—because He is saving us from our very own sin. Specifically, it’s past punishment; present power; and future presence. His gracious gift to us, received by faith alone.

1 Washer, Paul. The Gospel’s Power & Message (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012). 17-19.