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The Privileges & Responsibilities of
Our Salvation Package


Saved people of the earth,
    Hebrews 2:3 (NIV) says, How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?
    This salvation, the redeeming of our entire being back to its Creator, is so magnificent it comes with an unsettling warning: how shall we escape if we ignore it? Yet, like the post-exilic Jews of Haggai's day, we ignore it, instead focusing our best energies on our jobs, houses, possessions, families, relationships, hobbies. And, like the Jews of Malachi's day, we give God and His salvation package whatever is left of our time and energy--diseased and crippled offerings we would never dare give our boss or best friend or prized lover.
    It is remarkable that Hebrews 2:3 was written to Christians (born-again Hebrews). It is not clear exactly what the writer means by "How shall we escape?", but after reading other portions of Hebrews (6:4-9, 10:26-31, 12:4-11) I never want to find out. Though I have a healthy fear of the Lord, I have a stronger, deeper, higher, and wider love for Him. I want to know the privileges and responsibilities of so great a salvation because I adore Him and He is my everything. May that be your heart too.

The Privileges & Responsibilities of Our Salvation Package

We were created in the image of our Creator. This means several things, but one of them is that our being is a trinity, like Him. We are one being in three persons or entities: spirit, soul, and body. See 1Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12.
    Adam's fall corrupted or depraved all three entities, and this totalizing depravity was passed down to every human after him (Ro 5:12, 3:9-18). The spirit was separated from God and therefore became spiritually dead (Jn 5:24,25, Eph 2:1, Col 2:13). The soul became a dark zone of trauma and dysfunction, filled with negative emotions and wrong intellectual structures (Isa 1:5,6). The body lost its invincibility via the tree of life (Gen 3:24) and became vulnerable to accidents, sickness, and general entropy. Thank you my sweet precious Jesus for so great a salvation!
    Our salvation in Christ remedies all three deaths and operationalizes resurrection life in each. While many Christians understand that salvation delivers them from a real place Jesus called Gehenna, there is far less acumen on the other privileges and responsibilities of the salvation package. Let's walk through it one entity at a time: first spirit, then soul, then body.

Theological Term: justification
Time Frame: past tense
Privilege: perfection
Responsibility: rest


Before the born-again moment, our spirit was the dead sin nature (Jn 5:24,25, Eph 2:1, Col 2:13), separated from God and under His just wrath (Eph 2:3). At the born-again moment, however, the Holy Spirit "gave birth" to a new creation spirit in us (Jn 3:6). This new spirit was prophesied twice by Ezekiel (Eze 11:19, 36:26,27); in context he is referring to when national Israel experiences it after the Second Coming (Zec 12:10-14). Jesus' first coming, and His conversation with Nicodemus began the fulfillment of Ezekiel's two prophecies.
    At the born-again moment the Lord's Spirit fused with ours and became one (1Co 6:17). That Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are new creations and now saved (Ro 8:16). Notice where Paul said Jesus is residing in 2Timothy 4:22 (Young's Literal Translation): The Lord Jesus Christ [is] with thy spirit...


Theological Term: justification
Time Frame: past tense


    I like to call the born-again moment "entry-level salvation"; we enter the front gate of the kingdom for the very first time. Jesus said, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved" (Jn 10:9). A few verses later He says, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (v28). Jesus is saying the born-again experience saves a person once and for all from the ultimate penalty of sin--perishing in Gehenna (Lk 13:3,5, Ro 6:23, Rev 20:15). The Biblical term for this is justification. It is framed in the past tense as a finished work in our spirit.
    Justification is God's judicial act of declaring us perfectly and eternally righteous, cancelling our death sentence in Gehenna. As I explained above, this happened in our spirit at the born-again moment. The following verses describe justification in helpful detail.
    Acts 13:39 (NKJV, underline mine): ...everyone who believes is justified from all things...
    Romans 3:23,24, 4:5, 5:9 (NIV, underline mine): For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness...Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!


Privilege: perfection
Responsibility: rest


    Do you know the Word says, at the born-again moment, your spirit was made perfect? Not your practical behavior, but your spirit, where God Himself dwells in a new Holy of Holies. For that Presence to dwell inside us He must have a space that is perfect and perfectly holy. This is impossible in our body and soul, which are still in a sanctification process. An instantaneous new creation miracle in our spirit, however, whereby it is made perfect and perfectly holy, provides Him that place. This is what Hebrews tries to explain, over and over and over.
    First, Hebrews says the Mosaic law could not make anyone "perfect". Here are the key phrases in Hebrews 7:11,19, 9:9, 10:1 (NASB, underline mine): Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood...what further need was there for another priest...?...for the Law made nothing and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience...can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
    Second, Hebrews says the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ can make a person "perfect" (their spirit). The following verses are two of the most important in all the Word regarding our salvation package. Hebrews 10:14 and 12:23 (NKJV, underline mine): For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being the spirits of just men made perfect.
    Because of justification's perfect and finished work in our spirit--a new creation in the core entity of our being--our spirituality can calm down into a restful security. Hebrews calls this amazing privilege "an anchor for the soul". Hebrews 6:19 (NIV): We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. When you know deep down the Ultimate Judge has declared you perfectly and eternally righteous, you breathe an eternal sigh of relief and enter a Sabbath-rest about your eternity. Hebrews, again, tells us this in 4:3 (NIV): Now we who have believed enter that rest...


Summary & Takeaway
    Justification is a finished work in the core entity of our being, our spirit, making it perfect and perfectly holy, a New Covenant Holy of Holies for God's presence to dwell in. Beloved siblings, fully settling into your justification stops that exhausting, sweat-soaked, legalistic treadmill to "stay saved" or "hoping to be saved". Justification settles you in eternal life once and for all, as John urges you to remember in 1John 5:13 (NIV, underline mine): 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.
    As fabulous and calming as justification is, it is only the beginning. Though our spirit is a perfect new creation, our soul still has the recording or ingrained patterns of the old nature. We have been freed from the penalty of sin forever--justification--but the born-again moment merely started our freedom from the power of sin--sanctification.

Theological Term: sanctification
Time Frame: present tense
Privilege: practical transformation
Responsibility: cooperation


At the born-again moment our spirit was instantly rebirthed, recreated, perfected, finished, and given the literal presence of God the Holy Spirit. But the soul, help us Lord Jesus, just got started. As a result of Adam's fall, and our own nature and choices before salvation (and sometimes after salvation too), the soul became a dark zone of trauma and dysfunction. It became filled with broken emotions and wrong intellectual structures. A word study of "soul" in the Old Testament (because there are so many detailed verses there) shows this constantly. Verse after verse after verse says the soul is downcast, filled with anxiety, living in Sheol, deeply afraid, deeply unsatisfied, craving idols of security, needing consolation, needing healing, needing refreshing, etc. In one soul-focused statement, God diagnosed the psychological health of the entire nation of Israel (Isaiah 1:5,6 NIV): ...Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness--only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil.
    If we read Isaiah 1:5,6 alongside the many verses describing the soul (before transformation), we understand why Heaven's Psychologist and Wonderful Counselor says the soul needs to be shepherded to restoration, metaphorically called "green pastures" and "still waters" (Ps 23:2,3). The broad theological term in the New Testament is sanctification, but also synonyms like purification, transformation, growth, (inner) healing, etc. All these happen in the soul, which is a trinity of the heart, mind, and will.


Theological Term: sanctification
Time Frame: present tense


    The term sanctification is used in a variety of senses throughout the Word, so take care to understand context and concept when you see it used. Concerning the soul's practical transformation after the born-again moment, the word sanctification is used in the present tense and alongside some aspect of the soul, usually the heart or the mind.
    The clearest scripture differentiating justification (the finished work in our spirit) and sanctification (the ongoing work in our soul) is Hebrews 10:14 (NKJV): For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. The "perfected forever" part is our new creation spirit and the "being sanctified" part is the practical transformation of our soul. This verse does not explicitly mention spirit and soul, but other verses clarify this for us.
    1Thessalonians 3:13 says (Young's Literal Translation), ...the establishing your hearts blameless in sanctification before our God and Father...
Here Paul clarifies where we are being sanctified: our hearts or total emotional realm, one aspect of our soul.
    Peter said in 1Peter 3:15 (NASB), But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts...
Again, the soul's heart is where we are to make a holy, healthy space for Christ to sit as Lord. We who have walked with Him a long time know this does not happen all at once, but progressively as we become more and more sanctified at deeper and deeper levels in our complex emotional realm, or heart.
    The soul is also being sanctified in its cognitive or intellectual or thinking dimension. The most famous scripture on this is Romans 12:2 (NIV): transformed by the renewing of your mind... Paul uses the term "transformation" here as the conceptual equivalent of sanctification. Not only is our soul's heart undergoing transformation, but also our soul's mind.
    Jesus combined heart and mind into a single statement on sanctification in Revelation 2:23 (NASB): ...all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. Jesus surveys or searches where our souls need to be transformed, and He rewards or disciplines us based on what He uncovers. With fire in His eyes, He is continuously staring into our soul like an x-ray.

    These and many other soul-focused scriptures are in a present tense time frame. Today and everyday, our soul is the concentrate of God's practical transformation of our total life. If the soul prospers, everything else can too. 3John 2 (NKJV, underline mine): Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.


Privilege: practical transformation
Responsibility: cooperation


    For this transformation to happen, the Lord requires our obedience or cooperation with His sanctifying projects in our life. Sometimes those changes are pleasant and seemingly easy, or even miraculous. Sometimes those changes are painful deaths that make you cry till your stomach hurts. Sometimes those changes are like plowing, sowing, and reaping--not painful, not euphoric, but repetitious learning and changing. Sometimes He uses people and practical resources. Sometimes He uses His own presence in the secret place of intimacy. Whatever form His sanctifying project takes, it is our responsibility to see it and cooperate with it. If not, we do not change, we stay where we are in God and in life. If this imperception and stagnation goes on long enough, we start going backwards into backsliding or sideways into apostasy.
    On the subject of the soul, Peter used wording that is critically insightful, but Christians often miss it because they read too fast. 1Peter 2:25 (NKJV, underline mine): For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
    The Lord is shepherding and overseeing our soul--not our behavior, not our relationships, not our spiritual warfare ability, not our church attendance, etc.--but our souls. He is shepherding and overseeing our souls. All those other elements are cogwheels in the change process, but it is the soul He is focused on shepherding, superintending, sanctifiying, transforming. This hearkens back to 3John 2 (NKJV): unless our soul transforms and prospers first nothing else can really transform and prosper. If the soul is not transformed, behavior can be modified but the monster within remains. If the soul is not transformed, relationship skills can be learned, but the monster within remains. Etcetera etcetera. Peter words in 1Peter 2:25 are drawn from Psalm 23:1-3 (NKJV, underline mine): The L
ORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul...
    Understand then, church, the Lord is shepherding our soul to green pastures and still waters, metaphors for restoration. Our simple job is to discern how He is doing that at any given time and obey, obey, obey.


Summary & Takeaway
    Justification comes with one type of Sabbath-rest, sanctification comes with another type of Sabbath-rest. Hebrews exhorts us to not stop with the former, but to proceed and succeed in the latter. Are you craving psychological green pastures and still waters? Is depression or anxiety or anger or manic extremes or compulsions vexing your soul? Do you long for a personality made of the fruits of the Spirit? You do not need more of Babylon's pills or cotton candy Christianity. You do not need one more activity or one more person to finally appreciate you. You need your soul to be sanctified at the deepest, darkest, dysfunctional levels by the power of Spirit and truth. Hebrews 4:1,9,11 cry out to you (NIV): Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it...There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God...Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest...

Spirit & Soul


The Word makes an emphatic distinction between our spirit and our soul. It articulates the unique ontology and experiences of each. Here are a few more truths in bite-size contrasting spirit and soul.

Spirit Saved vs Soul Being Saved
    Our spirit has been saved from the penalty of sin (Gehenna), but our soul is being saved from the power of sin (trauma, dysfunction, bondage). The soul's saving is daily, practical, progressive, ongoing. It does not have to do with Hell, it has to do with our maturity and freedom here on earth. Read these verses with those distinctions in mind (all underlines mine). James 1:21 (NASB): Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 1Corinthians 1:18 (NASB): For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1Peter 1:9 (NASB): Obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.


Father of Our Spirits vs Shepherd of Our Souls
    To convey the different ontology and experiences of our spirit and our soul, notice the titles of God in two relevant verses. In Hebrews 12:9, God is "the Father of our spirits". A father creates and births with his seed, therefore, the title "the Father of spirits" reminisces the born-again experience in our spirit (Jn 3:6, 1Pet 1:23). In contrast, in 1Peter 2:25, God is "the Shepherd of our souls", a title drawn from Psalm 23:1-3, where David says God is shepherding our soul to restoration.


The Messianic Job Description on Spirit & Soul
    Isaiah 61:1-3 is the Messiah's job description. There is one statement on evangelism ("good news to the poor"), two statements on overall freedom, six statements on emotional healing, and two statements on eschatology ("the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God"). What is intriguing is there is only one statement on what He will do in our spirit (apply the good news of the gospel, justification) and six statements on what He will do in our soul (NIV): heal the brokenhearted, comfort all who mourn, provide for those who grieve, beauty instead of ashes, oil of joy instead of mourning, garment of praise instead of a spirit (attitude) of despair.


The Critical Task of Dividing Spirit & Soul
    Hebrews 4:12 says (NASB, underline mine), For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
    Christians often confuse and jumble spirit experiences versus soul experiences. For example, what is God's revelation (which goes into my spirit first) and what is my imagination (a function of my soul)? What is a deep conviction and witness from the Holy Spirit (which happens in my spirit) and what is my own emotions and needs (aspects of my soul)? What is God's incoming voice (spirit) and what is my own self-talk and psychological programming (soul)? It is dire that we divide or distinguish spirit and soul in our Christian life. Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God can do that, however, it can only do that to the degree of our depth and dexterity in it. Growing deep, very deep, in the Word results in more easily and quickly dividing spirit and soul, because, the Spirit of truth can then illuminate relevant scriptures in our time of need to guide us into all truth. If you neglect the Word, the Spirit will not have anything stored inside you to pull up and illuminate when you need to distinguish what is what.


Blurring Justification's Rest & Sanctification's Rest
    Some Christians confuse their spirit with their soul and restlessly strive to attain or maintain justification. Others confuse their soul with their spirit and assume literally everything is finished and past tense and enter a counterfeit rest whereby they do not have to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12). Divide and distinguish spirit and soul! Your spirit entered an eternal and finished Sabbath-rest at the born-again moment (justification's rest). See Hebrews 4:3. Your soul progressively enters an ever-increasing Sabbath-rest as you proceed and succeed in the daily transformation process (sanctification's rest). See Hebrews 4:1,9,11.

Theological Term: glorification
Time Frame: future tense
Privilege: immortality
Responsibility: hope, eagerness


At the born-again moment our spirit was instantly rebirthed, recreated, perfected, finished, and given the literal presence of God the Holy Spirit. This is justification. The soul, however, just got started in a process of practical transformation, which includes depth repentance, inner healing, learning Biblical truth, belief-changing, and so on. This is sanctification. The physical body is the last to receive its salvation gift. The New Testament calls it glorification.

Theological Term: glorification
Time Frame: future tense


    Glorification is the future of our salvation, when we will be saved from the presence of sin forever. Glorification is the instant transformation, in the twinkling of an eye, of our earthly body into an immortal glorified body at Jesus' return. A new, sin-free heavens and earth will be the home of that body (2Pet 3:13). Here are the scriptures (all underlines mine), the simplest and clearest of which is Romans 8:30.
    Romans 8:30 (NIV): ...those he justified, he also glorified.
    Romans 8:23 (NIV): ...we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
    Philippians 3:20,21 (NKJV): ...we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body...
    1Corinthians 15:51-53 (NIV): ...we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet...the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
    1John 3:2 (NIV): ...when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
    Notice the futuristic language of our salvation in the following verses. All underlines mine.
    1Peter 1:4,5 (NIV): ...This inheritance is kept in heaven for you...until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
    Hebrews 1:14 (NIV): Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
    Hebrews 9:28 (NIV): ...he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
    Romans 13:11 (NIV): ...our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.


Privilege: immortality
Responsibility: hope, eagerness


    The privilege in this aspect of our salvation is physical immortality. Who wants to live forever? Who wants an invincible body? Who wants to walk through walls like Jesus (Jn 20:19,20)? Who wants to instantly teleport across the universe like Jesus (Jn 20:17, Ac 9:3-5, 2Ti 4:17)? The aforementioned scriptures say our new body will be exactly like Jesus' resurrected body, with all its physics-ignoring, transhumanist abilities.
    Our response to such an indescribable privilege is hope and eager waiting. The most specific passages on this are Philippians 3:20,21 (NKJV, underline mine): ...we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body... And Romans 8:23 (NIV, underline mine): ...we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.


Summary & Takeaway
    When this final, future phase of our salvation is actuated by Jesus' Appearing, our salvation will be, literally, complete. The good work He began in us (justification) will have been carried on (sanctification) to completion at the day of Christ (glorification), Philippians 1:6 says. Then, finally, our physical bodies will be redeemed and immortalized, allowing it to inherit the tangible, visible kingdom of God (1Co 15:50).

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