Now, Not Yet
This section ends the introductory topics to understanding the Bible and specifically the framework of the Biblical message. As with the last several topics, this is directly pertinent to the study of the end times and specifically Revelation.
When we look at the issue of salvation we have discovered several “time” aspects of it already.
The Past and Present Aspects of Salvation
Past (for all)
Salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross nearly 2,000 years ago (1 John 2:2)
namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them (2 Corinthians 5:19 NAS)
Past (for the individual person)
Salvation delivered to us through God’s Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13, Romans 10:17, etc.) and Baptism (1 Peter 3:21, etc.).
Present (for the individual Christian)
Salvation delivered to us through God’s Word (2 Peter 3:18, etc.), Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-27), Absolution (Matthew 18:15-20; Ephesians 4:32, etc.).
Ephesians 2:8 offers the above two aspects of salvation for the person. The verb (ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι) is in the perfect tense: something accomplished in the past is still effective in the present. Note how NAS and HCSB cover both notions in their translations:
NAS: For by grace you have been saved through faith (past tense)
HCSB: For you are saved by grace through faith (present tense)
The Future Aspect of Salvation
But now we look to the future aspect of salvation. We can look at several passages, but here are just a couple.
[Jesus said:] “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels, with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:31-34 HCSB)
Notice that Jesus mentions that on the last day we gain the inheritance that has been promised for those who believe in Him. There is something ahead, the promise of heaven and all that God desires. This is the future aspect of our salvation.
Hence, we live in a “now, not yet” existence. Are we saved? Yes! Have we received everything that Christ has obtained? Not yet.
Living in the Now, Not Yet
How do we as Christians live and grow in this “now, not yet” life? God has given us His Word and the Lord’s Supper for that growth.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; (John 8:31 NAS)
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42 NAS)
Paul encourages the Christians in Philippi concerning the end, “holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ…” (Philippians 2:16)
In the New Testament the Greek word “covenant” also can be translated as “testament” or even in some contexts “last will and testament.” In legal terms, a testator is a person who has written and executed a last will and testament that is in effect at the time of the person’s death. Thus, Jesus institutes his last will and testament, which becomes effective when the Jesus dies.
for this is My blood of the (last will and) testament, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28 NAS)
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new (last will and) testament in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25)
…more to come in part B